Friday, August 12, 2005

Charles Krauthammer: Setting Limits on Tolerance

The Washington Post
Friday, August 12, 2005; Page A19

In 1977, when a bunch of neo-Nazis decided to march through Skokie, a suburb of Chicago heavily populated with Holocaust survivors, there was controversy as to whether they should be allowed. I thought they should. Why? Because neo-Nazis are utterly powerless.

Had they not been -- had they been a party on the rise, as in late-1920s Germany -- I would have been for not only banning the march but also for practically every measure of harassment and persecution from deportation to imprisonment. A tolerant society has an obligation to be tolerant. Except to those so intolerant that they themselves would abolish tolerance.

Call it situational libertarianism: Liberties should be as unlimited as possible -- unless and until there arises a real threat to the open society. Neo-Nazis are pathetic losers. Why curtail civil liberties to stop them? But when a real threat -- such as jihadism -- arises, a liberal democratic society must deploy every resource, including the repressive powers of the state, to deter and defeat those who would abolish liberal democracy.

Civil libertarians go crazy when you make this argument. Beware the slippery slope, they warn. You start with a snoop in a library, and you end up with Big Brother in your living room.

The problem with this argument is that it is refuted by American history. There is no slippery slope, only a shifting line between liberty and security that responds to existential threats.

During the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln went so far as to suspend habeas corpus. When the war ended, America returned to its previous openness. During World War II, Franklin Roosevelt interned an entire ethnic group. His policies were soon rescinded (later apologized for) and shortly afterward America embarked on a period of unprecedented expansion of civil rights. Similarly, the Vietnam-era abuses of presidential power were later exposed and undone by Congress.

Our history is clear. We have not slid inexorably toward police power. We have fluctuated between more and less openness depending on need and threat. And after the Sept. 11 mass murders, America awoke to the need for a limited and temporary shrinkage of civil liberties to prevent more such atrocities.

Britain is just now waking up, post-7/7. Well, at least its prime minister is. His dramatic announcement that Britain will curtail its pathological openness to those who would destroy it -- by outlawing the fostering of hatred and incitement of violence and expelling those engaged in such offenses -- was not universally welcomed.

His own wife made a speech a week after the second London attacks loftily warning against restricting civil liberties. "It is all too easy to respond in a way that undermines commitment to our most deeply held values and convictions and cheapens our right to call ourselves a civilized nation," declared Cherie Blair. You need only read Tony Blair's 12-point program to appreciate how absurd was his wife's defense of Britain's pre-7/7 civil liberties status quo.

For example, point 3: "Anyone who has participated in terrorism, or has anything to do with it anywhere, will be automatically refused asylum in our country." What sane country grants asylum to terrorists in the first place?

Point 5, my favorite, declared "unacceptable" the remarkable fact that a man accused of the 1995 Paris metro bombing has successfully resisted extradition across the Channel for 10 years .

Blair's proposals are progress, albeit from a very low baseline -- so low a baseline that the mere announcement of his intent to crack down had immediate effect. Within three days, the notorious Sheik Omar Bakri Mohammed, a Syrian-born cleric who has been openly preaching jihad for 19 years, skipped the country and absconded to Beirut.

Not only had Bakri been allowed to run free the whole time, but he had collected more than 300,000 pounds in welfare, plus a 31,000-pound gift from the infidel taxpayers: a Ford Galaxy (because of a childhood leg injury).

It took 52 dead for at least the prime minister to adopt situational libertarianism. Or as Blair put it, "The rules of the game are changing," declaring his readiness, finally, to alter the status quo in the name of elementary self-defense.

Before departing Britain, Bakri complained that it would be unfair to have him deported from the country he reviled: "I have wives, children, sons-in-law, daughters-in-law. It would be hard on my family if I was deported."
Wives , no less. Point 10 of Blair's plan would establish a commission to try to get immigrants to adopt more of the local mores.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Thomas Sowell- Trashing Our History: Lincoln
Thomas Sowell (archive)
August 11, 2005

Since Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation was issued in 1863, you might think that there would be no need for a new book about it today. Unfortunately, there is very much a need for a new book on the subject, not only because of the gross neglect of history in our schools and colleges, but also because of the completely unrealistic view of the world -- past and present -- that prevails, not only among the ignorant but among the intelligentsia as well.

Since the 1960s, it has been fashionable in some quarters to take cheap shots at Lincoln, asking such questions as "Why didn't he free all the slaves?" "Why did he wait so long?" "How come the Emancipation Proclamation didn't just come right out and say that slavery was wrong?"

People who indulge themselves in this kind of self-righteous carping act as if Lincoln was someone who could do whatever he damn well pleased, without regard to the law, the Congress, or the Supreme Court. They might as well criticize him for not discovering a cure for cancer.

Fortunately, there is an excellent new book, titled "Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation" by Professor Allen C. Guelzo of Gettysburg College, that sets Lincoln in the context of the world in which he lived. Once you understand the constraints of that world, and how little room for maneuver Lincoln had, you realize what courage and brilliance it took for him to free the slaves.

Just one fact should give pause to Lincoln's critics today: When Lincoln sat down to write the Emancipation Proclamation, the Supreme Court was still headed by Chief Justice Roger Taney, who had issued the infamous Dred Scott decision, saying a black man had no rights which a white man needed to respect.

This was a Supreme Court that would not have hesitated to declare the freeing of slaves unconstitutional -- and Lincoln knew it. The Dred Scott decision was not yet a decade old at the time.

There would have been no point in issuing an Emancipation Proclamation that didn't actually emancipate anybody. Ringing rhetoric about the wrongness of slavery would not have gotten the Emancipation Proclamation past Taney and his Supreme Court.

Since Lincoln's purpose was to free millions of human beings, not leave some rhetoric to be preserved in the anthologies, he wrote the Emancipation Proclamation in dry legalistic terms that disappointed thoughtless critics in his time and ours, but got it past the Supreme Court.

Nothing in the Constitution gave a President the authority to free slaves. The only thing Lincoln could use to make his actions legal was his authority as commander-in-chief in wartime. But that meant that he could only free the slaves in territory controlled by enemy forces.

It took not only legal shrewdness but much courage to do what Lincoln did. There was no big political support in the North for freeing slaves. In fact there was much opposition to the idea by Northerners who feared that such an action would stiffen Southern resistance and prolong a war that cost more lives than any other war in American history. More than ten times as many American died in the Civil War as in Vietnam.

Lincoln was out on a limb, both politically and legally. He could have been impeached. At a minimum, he expected to lose the next election and was surprised when he didn't. But today we see the spectacle of pygmies sniping at this giant.

As for the other slaves not covered by the Emancipation Proclamation, Lincoln worked behind the scenes to try to get slave-holding border states to emancipate them by state actions that would be beyond the jurisdiction of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Failing that, he prodded a reluctant Congress to end slavery by amending the Constitution. He did a lot of political maneuvering on a lot of fronts to accomplish his goal.

Professor Guelzo's book does more than give us some sense of realism about a major event in American history. Perhaps if we come to understand the complexities and constraints of Lincoln's turbulent times, we might not be so quick to seize opportunities to reduce other times -- including our own -- to cartoon-like simplicities that allow us to indulge in cheap self-righteousness when judging those who carry heavy responsibilities.

©2005 Creators Syndicate, Inc.

John McWhorter: Black and White and Read All Over

The New York Times
Published: August 11, 2005

WHEN I was growing up in the 70's, Ebony and Jet were always on the coffee table, along with the late, great Ebony Jr. for children. There always seemed to be a party going on in all three of them, which is just the way their creator John H. Johnson wanted it. He created Ebony in 1945 to show that "Negroes got married, had beauty contests, gave parties, ran successful businesses, and did all the other normal things of life."

Ebony was still at it 60 years later when Mr. Johnson died this week - its 717th issue is on the newsstands now. But while Ebony and Jet remain cherished in the black community, for a long time their upbeat tone has carried a certain whiff of another time - namely, black America before the black power era in the late 60's.

As a matter of fact, it was on this day in 1965 that the riots in the Watts section of Los Angeles marked a turning point in civil rights philosophy in black America. The old way focused on assimilation and paving the way to it by celebrating blacks who excelled in the "normal things of life" that whites did. The new way elevated separatism and supporting that argument by showing whites the plight of blacks who had it the worst.

Many saw the Watts riots and the ones that occurred nationwide in its wake over the next few years as eloquent, if chaotic, statements from blacks who had been suffering for too long. Under this mentality, black success was often treated as an inconvenient sideshow, best publicized as little as possible.

So while in the 50's the N.A.A.C.P. decried "Amos 'n' Andy" for not paying enough attention to successful blacks, in the late 60's black pundits ganged up on Diahann Carroll's sitcom "Julia" for not paying enough attention to poor blacks. Today many writers celebrate even the nastiest gangsta rap as a vibrant reflection of black culture. The new idea was that the blackest was the lowest. For those of this inclination, chirpy Ebony articles like "Three Legal Eagles Who Just Happen to Be Triplets" may not seem exactly like the dead center of black "authenticity."

Yet the fact remains that since the 60's, blacks have found that some assimilation and striving in the mainstream is usually a surer path to success than embracing angry separatism. Ebony and Jet have covered this triumph lovingly, and this becomes another reason that they can seem a tad quaint, given the eternal static in the air claiming that the scowling poses of the likes of Vibe magazine are the essence of "real" for black people.

But this quaintness is a victory: it shows that blacks hitting the heights in the mainstream arena are no longer extraordinary. In the 70's on its television page, Jet could point readers to almost every black performer with a regular gig. Today, blacks are so common on the tube that Jet can list only a few scattered highlights. That is something to celebrate.

However, Mr. Johnson was no Pollyanna. The cover story of the Ebony issue on the stands when the Watts riots broke out happened to be "The White Problem in America," and the magazine's photographers were at the forefront in documenting the violence that civil rights workers encountered.

Mr. Johnson was, then, a Race Man to his core, well aware of the lows but not afraid to sing of the highs. And while for most of the people in his pages, success has meant leaving some black identity at the door, Mr. Johnson made himself one of the richest men in the country with an enterprise that was run by, and all about, black people - and he did all this without being a comedian, a professional rabblerouser or playing the thug.

This is even the kind of thing that helps me forgive the staff of Ebony Jr. for not giving me a prize for the short story I sent in to their writing contest in 1974. In the end, like most blacks of his generation, Mr. Johnson knew that while racism was unpardonable, black America could achieve despite it. Having grown up poor, he was living proof of that message and under no illusion that putting it into the pages of his magazines every month was racial treason.

Legions of black people know, as Mr. Johnson did, that it is not progress for a race to treat victories as family secrets. Ebony and Jet, thriving at the newsstand and now on line as well, are an ongoing certification that black success does not require rebellion and resentment; and because of that, they will live on in black America as oldies but goodies.

John McWhorter, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, is the author of the forthcoming "Winning the Race: Beyond the Crisis in Black America."

George F. Will: Briefing Book Baloney

The Washington Post
Thursday, August 11, 2005; Page A23

A quarter of a century has passed since 44 states said "No, thanks" to Jimmy Carter's offer to serve a second term, yet he still evidently thinks his loss is explained not by foreign policy debacles, such as invading Iran with eight helicopters, and a misery index -- inflation plus unemployment -- of 22, almost triple today's index. Rather, he seems to think approximately this:

Ronald Reagan won because he won the only debate. He won it not because of Carter's debate performance ("I had a discussion with my daughter, Amy, the other day, before I came here, to ask her what the most important issue was. She said she thought nuclear weaponry . . .") but only because Reagan had Carter's briefing book. And Reagan had it because this columnist gave it to him.

That last accusation, for which there is no evidence, is, as he has been told, false. But he is a recidivist fibber. Last Oct. 21, on National Public Radio, he said: "We found out later that one of Ronald Reagan's supporters inside the White House had stolen my briefing book, my top-secret briefing book that prepared me for the debate. And a very prominent news reporter was the one who took the briefing book to Ronald Reagan and helped drill him on the things that I might say if he said certain things." Asked who that reporter was, Carter replied, "It was George Will, and it was later known that he did that."

But one cannot know what isn't so, and "top secret" is a government classification inapplicable to campaign fodder. Still, Carter continues to retail -- and to embroider -- his fable. Recently in a Plains, Ga., church, he illustrated his aptitude for the virtue of forgiveness by saying that once, after columnist Will read a report of his telling his briefing book tale, Will wrote to him "asking for forgiveness."

Well. The only letter I ever wrote to Carter was in response to one he wrote to me on Oct. 29, 1993. His letter began: "For a number of years I have felt some resentment toward you because of the reports that you either knew about or actually used my personal briefing book in preparing Reagan for our campaign debates [sic]." He added:

"Because of this feeling, and despite my lifetime interest in baseball, I even refrained from reading your 'Men at Work.' Recently, in order to learn how to be a better Braves fan next year, I spent $1 in a used bookstore for the book, and really enjoyed it.

"Even if the news stories about the debate incident are true, I feel that we are even now.

"Best wishes,

"Jimmy Carter"

My Nov. 10 reply was untainted by any request for forgiveness:

"Dear President Carter:

"I am delighted that you have at long last overcome your repugnance and given yourself the pleasure of 'Men at Work.' I am distressed, as I suspect you naughtily knew I would be, to learn that this masterwork was found in a used bookstore. That is more evidence of the decline of Western civilization."

Then, to the point:

"Regarding your briefing book, I will tell you what I have told many others. When I got to David Stockman's house on the day he was preparing to play the role of you in the debate preparations, he had on his kitchen table what I gather was the briefing book. I do not know how he got it; more to the point, I do not know who thought having it would be helpful. Frankly, you deserved better. My cursory glance at it convinced me that it was a crashing bore and next to useless -- for you, or for anyone else."

Even though, as a columnist, my support for Reagan was well-known, my participation in his debate preparation was as inappropriate as it was superfluous -- after three decades of public advocacy, Reagan was ready . And speaking of the inappropriate:

The role of ex-president requires a grace and restraint notably absent from Carter. See, for example, his criticism of the United States when he is abroad, as in England two weeks ago. Having made such disappointing history as president, Carter as ex-president should at least refrain from disseminating a historical falsehood.

So strong, however, is the human impulse to believe comforting myths that Carter probably will continue to promulgate the fiction that I gave Reagan the utterly unimportant briefing book, thereby catalyzing the 1980 landslide. But to be fair: As a candidate, Carter promised only that as president he would never tell a lie, thereby leaving himself a loophole for his post-presidential career as a fabulist.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Robert Spencer: The Forbidden Truth About Radical Islam

By Robert Spencer
August 10, 2005

“Too many people might be emotionally affected by the subject matter. … It’s too controversial to be aired at this time.”

So said a statement from CBS/Infinity Radio, declining to run a series of paid commercial announcements. What were these emotionally affecting and controversial spots advertising? Vivisection of puppies? The North American Man/Boy Love Association? The placement of religious symbols on government property?

None of the above. The rejected ads were to announce a conference, “The Radical Islamist Threat to World Peace and National Security,” sponsored by the People’s Truth Forum. I will be participating in this symposium on September 21 in Plantsville, Connecticut, along with Harvey Kushner, author of Holy War on the Home Front; Brigitte Gabriel, a former anchor for world news in the Middle East; and Laura Mansfield, an author and counter-terror analyst.

What is so frightening about this for CBS? Well, I cannot speak for the other participants, but at the conference I intend to challenge media bias head-on by exploding the common politically correct notions that American injustice and economic inequalities are the real cause of terrorism, not any imperative derived from Islamic theology. I will show how jihad violence – in the words of terrorists themselves including Osama bin Laden – gains its impetus from core elements of Islamic theology mandating warfare against unbelievers, and call upon sincere moderate Muslims to confront and repudiate these elements of Islam. From what I know of the other speakers, I seriously doubt that they intend to sugar-coat matters or toe the line of politically correct orthodoxy. And the ads, in a quiet but unmistakable way, make that clear.

Why is this too much for CBS? The rejected ads touted the conference as revealing the motivation behind the madness of the 9/11 attacks and announced the speakers. No frothing condemnations of Muslims in general, no calls to nuke Mecca or round up innocent people and throw them into internment camps. In short, nothing but a straightforward announcement of a conference designed to explore the motivations of Islamic terrorists.

The fact that CBS/Infinity Radio would find this in itself too controversial and emotion-arousing for the American people is just one sign of the abysmal state of public discourse about Islamic terrorism today. The forces of political correctness as well as prominent American Islamic advocacy groups seem to be doing all they can to make sure that the American people are not exposed to any serious investigation of the genuine root causes of Islamic terrorism – such as I have undertaken in my new book The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades). Even speaking the truth about Islam is becoming increasingly difficult in today’s stifling politically correct atmosphere. After successfully getting radio talk show host Michael Graham suspended for his remarks about Islam, the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) directed its ire toward Geoff Metcalf, Graham’s replacement. Metcalf annoyed CAIR by telling his listeners that the Qur’an allows Muslims to lie to unbelievers. Yet even as it complained about Metcalf’s statement, CAIR’s press release attacking Metcalf, Radio Host Claims Quran Teaches Muslims To Lie, doesn’t say that what Metcalf said was false. Why not? Because it’s true.

Religious deception of unbelievers is indeed taught by the Qur’an itself: “Let not the believers take for friends or helpers unbelievers rather than believers. If any do that, in nothing will there be help from Allah; except by way of precaution, that ye may guard yourselves from them” (Qur’an 3:28). In other words, don’t make friends with unbelievers except to “guard yourselves from them”: pretend to be their friends so that you can strengthen yourself against them. The distinguished Qur’anic commentator Ibn Kathir explains that this verse teaches that if “believers who in some areas or times fear for their safety from the disbelievers,” they may “show friendship to the disbelievers outwardly, but never inwardly.” The Qur’an also warns Muslims that those who forsake Islam will be consigned to Hell — except those forced to do so, but who remain true Muslims inwardly: “Any one who, after accepting faith in Allah, utters unbelief — except under compulsion, his heart remaining firm in faith — but such as open their breast to unbelief, on them is wrath from Allah, and theirs will be a dreadful penalty” (Qur’an 16:106). Ibn Kathir explains that “the scholars agreed that if a person is forced into disbelief, it is permissible for him to…go along with them in the interests of self-preservation...”

But if CBS and CAIR get their way, the American people will be denied the ability to act in their interests of their own self-preservation – by being not allowed to investigate and discuss the roots of Islamic violence and terrorism. And that in turn will lead only to our increased vulnerability to new terror attacks, more virulent than any we have seen up to now.

Is that what they want?

Robert Spencer is a scholar of Islamic history, theology, and law and the director of Jihad Watch. He is the author of five books, seven monographs, and hundreds of articles about jihad and Islamic terrorism, including Islam Unveiled: Disturbing Questions About the World’s Fastest Growing Faith and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades). He is also an Adjunct Fellow with the Free Congress Foundation.

Groups Split Over Risks to Grizzlies in Yellowstone Park

Some Say Bears Should Stay on Endangered List

By Blaine Harden
The Washington Post
Monday, August 8, 2005; A08

MISSOULA, Mont. -- As the Bush administration prepares to remove Yellowstone's grizzly bears from the endangered species list, a schism has emerged in the environmental movement over whether the bears remain at risk.

The nation's largest environmental group, the National Wildlife Federation, says it now supports delisting the bears, whose numbers have bounced back impressively after three decades of federal protection.

But a number of powerful organizations, including the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council and Earthjustice, say that the future of the grizzlies is still in doubt. They are threatening to sue the Bush administration if, as expected, it removes Yellowstone grizzlies from the list.

"The recovery has been a huge success, but removing federal protection now is too risky," said Heidi Godwin, regional representative for the Sierra Club in Montana. "You don't go from emergency room to the parking lot. The bears still need intensive care."

Big, omnivorous and photogenic, grizzlies are often called "charismatic mega-fauna." They are attention-grabbing, money-raising, vote-swaying icons for the environmental movement, and a significant split inside the movement's ranks about how best to protect them has not occurred before.

The National Wildlife Federation, though, says it is time for environmentalists to rethink how to manage Yellowstone's grizzlies -- both as a matter of science and as a political tactic in an era of Republican rule.

"We think we should embrace success when it happens," said Sterling D. Miller, a grizzly bear specialist and senior wildlife biologist here in the federation's Northern Rockies office. "If we don't, we play right into the hands of the people who are trying to kill the Endangered Species Act by reforming it."

A draft proposal to take the grizzlies off the endangered species list went out this summer from field offices of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Montana to Interior Department headquarters, said Chris Servheen, grizzly bear recovery coordinator for Fish and Wildlife.

Senior officials at Interior are reviewing the plan, Servheen said, adding that it is likely the proposal will soon be published in the Federal Register and then be made available for public comment. A spokesman for Interior cautioned that it is "too early" to comment on what the department would do with the proposal.

The delisting plan reaches Washington as the White House, Republicans in Congress, land rights groups and many industry lobbyists are pressing to limit the scope and power of the Endangered Species Act, which was enacted in 1973 and which many conservatives scorn as costly, clumsy and ineffective.

Given this political reality, officials from the National Wildlife Federation say they have concluded that the long effort to rescue grizzlies in and around Yellowstone National Park should be publicized for what it is: a resounding success and a perfect example of how the Endangered Species Act can work.

When grizzlies were listed as threatened in 1975, there were about 200 to 250 of them in the Yellowstone area. Now their population is estimated to be about 600, with their numbers growing at about 4 to 7 percent a year, according to the Fish and Wildlife Service.

"The public should understand that the Endangered Species Act is not an overnight cure," said Thomas M. France, director and counsel for the federation's Northern Rockies office. "But you will have success when there is proper funding and real cooperation. What has happened with the grizzlies is a model for how to take an animal off the list."

France said that the states of Montana, Wyoming and Idaho -- working with federal agencies -- are now well prepared to guarantee the long-term health of the grizzlies that live near Yellowstone. The plan for delisting would apply only to Yellowstone's grizzlies and not to other clusters of the species in the West that are still believed to be at risk.

If the Yellowstone grizzlies are delisted, a Forest Service protection plan will be implemented in six national forests that surround the national park, Servheen said. He said the plan would sharply limit road building, camping, and oil and gas exploration in the forests, while retiring existing leases for livestock grazing.

The grizzlies would continue to be monitored by federal scientists, with 10 percent of the bears always wearing radio collars. "They would be fairly intensively taken care of from now on," Servheen said.

Officials from several environmental organizations, however, said they do not trust the White House to follow through on these promised protections.

"The Bush administration has tried to gut forest management plans, and yet the primary enforcement mechanism for protecting these bears is through forest plans," said Douglas Honnold, managing attorney for the Northern Rockies office of Earthjustice.

He said Yellowstone grizzlies still represent a relatively small genetic pool that remains cut off from grizzlies in central Idaho and Glacier National Park in northwest Montana. Until these separated clusters of bears can be reconnected through a system of land corridors, Honnold said, it is much too early to delist the grizzlies.

Speaking for the Sierra Club, Godwin said that grizzly delisting has caused a split among environmentalists.

"Call what is red, red," she said. "The potential is definitely there for this to cause some contention."

© 2005 The Washington Post Company

London Times: Undercover in the Academy of Hatred

August 07, 2005
Focus: Undercover in the academy of hatred
By the Insight team
While London reeled under attack, the teachers of extremism were celebrating — and a Sunday Times reporter was recording every word

On a Friday evening late in July a small group of young Asian men gathered secretly in the grounds of a Victorian manor house on the edge of Epping Forest, east of London, to listen to their master.

Debden House, a property run as a bed-and-breakfast and campsite by Newham borough council, was chosen because they were running scared.

Earlier that day police had arrested the remaining three suspects for the failed 21/7 London bombing. While millions of Britons watched the dramatic final siege on television, members of the Saviour Sect had come to hear a different interpretation of the day’s events.

Among them was an undercover reporter from The Sunday Times. He joined a football kickabout as they waited for their leader. Others practised kick-boxing.

As they chatted the reporter was asked if he would be willing to wear a “strap” — slang for a suicide bomb belt. He laughed the suggestion off nervously and was relieved when everyone smiled.

At 8pm a bulky figure with a long beard and flowing white robe picked his way across the open field in the twilight with the aid of a walking stick. Two hours late, Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohammed had finally arrived.

A Syrian with seven children who has lived on benefits for 18 years, this extremist cleric has been investigated by police for using inflammatory language but he has never been prosecuted.

Now, sitting cross-legged and picking at a bag of fried chicken and chips donated by one of the group, Bakri addressed his followers. He was perturbed by the day’s events.
Rather than express relief that the bomb suspects were in custody, he was disgusted that two of the men, arrested in Notting Hill in west London, had been made to strip down to their underwear.

There was, however, some consolation. Referring to the capture of the first bomb suspect in Birmingham two days earlier, he suggested the freak tornado in the city that followed was divine retribution for the police action. “It was so close to the area of arrest,” he said with a flicker of glee.

The meeting then took a more serious — and revealing — turn.

Referring to the speed with which police issued closed-circuit television pictures of the suspects in the London attacks, Bakri suggested that they should have covered their faces to conceal their identity from prying CCTV cameras. This sparked a discussion with his right-hand man, Anjem Choudhury, which was taped by our reporter.
Choudhury: “It’s CCTV, sheikh; that’s the killer. You can’t go anywhere without them monitoring you now: down the street; out the station.”

Bakri: “There is million of pictures on CCTV. None of them said this man or this man . . . but when somebody speak, saying my son is this, my son is that, they will take picture of son and they will look at CCTV.”

Choudhury: “Oh yeah, when somebody gives them a picture, then they can follow them around . . .”
Bakri: “People got big mouths. That’s why the link to the family is not going to help. These people should be completely rootless. That’s why Sheikh Osama (Bin Laden), he build all people young. He train the youth.”
Bakri suggested that people were pointing the finger of blame for the attacks at his group.
Choudhury replied: “Sheikh, they’re looking for the planners and the eggers-on. We fall into the later (sic) category. We’re not planning anything.”

DURING a two-month undercover investigation The Sunday Times has amassed hours of taped evidence and pages of transcripts which show how Bakri and his acolytes promote hatred of “non-believers” and “egg” their followers on to commit acts of violence, including suicide bombings.

The evidence details how his group, the Saviour Sect, preaches a racist creed of Muslim supremacy which, in the words of Bakri, aims at one day “flying the Islamic flag over Downing Street”.

In his two months with the sect, our reporter witnessed a gang of Bakri’s followers brutally beating up a Muslim who challenged their views. He listened as a succession of “religious leaders” ridiculed moderate Muslims and repeatedly justified war against the “kuffar” — non-Muslims.

He discovered that the core of the group consisted of about 40 young men guided by a handful of spiritual mentors. Many are of Bangladeshi origin, jobless and living in council flats in east London. They use aliases, taking the names of the prophet Muhammad’s companions.

At their meetings — which often included school-age teenagers — they were fed a constant diet of propaganda warning that the kuffar are out to destroy them.
Integration with British society is scorned, as is any form of democratic process. Followers are encouraged to exploit the benefits system. They avoid jobs which could bring them into contact with western women or might lead them to contribute to the economy of a nation they are taught to despise.

In regular lectures and sermons it is instilled into them that Islam is a religion of violence. While publicly they did not defend the London attacks, they speak differently in private.

Bakri, who faces possible deportation with the introduction of new terror laws announced by Tony Blair on Friday, was taped saying that he had been “very happy” since the July 7 London bombings, which killed 52 people. After the second attacks, he described the bombers as the “fantastic four”.

The undercover reporter, who has a Muslim background, first approached the group as a potential convert in June, three weeks before the first London attack. Posing as a university graduate who was disaffected because he could not find a job, he introduced himself to members of the Saviour Sect who ran a stall handing out leaflets on the Whitechapel Road, east London.

The sect and its interchangeable sister organisation, Al-Ghuraaba, were created after Bakri claimed to have closed down his militant extremist group Al-Muhajiroun last October.

The activities of Al-Muhajiroun, which notoriously praised the September 11, 2001 hijackers as the “Magnificent 19”, had been extensively investigated by anti-terrorist police. However, as The Sunday Times discovered, the Saviour Sect and Al-Ghuraaba were Al-Muhajiroun in all but name.

The sect came to prominence during the general election in April when it launched an intimidatory campaign against fellow Muslims to stop them voting. They were captured on film yelling and attacking members at a meeting of the mainstream Muslim Council of Britain.

George Galloway, the Respect party MP for Bethnal Green, east London, claimed that they made death threats against him when they disrupted one of his election campaign meetings, shouting him down as a “false prophet”.

At the time Bakri denied any connection to the sect and he has continued — publicly at least — to keep his distance from it. But members openly talked of him as their spiritual leader when our reporter first approached them.

They invited the reporter to attend one of their meetings that evening. It was to be the first of many lectures and sermons that he attended.

As he entered the entrance hall of the red-brick YMCA building in Beckton he was met initially with suspicion. Abdul Muhid, one of the sect’s leaders, questioned him closely. Within minutes Muhid, 22, was explaining that most new recruits were former heroin addicts who had found salvation.

Another man, Nasser, in his early twenties with a wispy henna-speckled beard, implored our reporter to “unlearn” the brand of Islam that he had been taught as a child and to adopt a new approach.

It was important to be unemployed, Nasser said, as taking a job would contribute to the kuffar system. He said he was receiving a jobseeker’s allowance and justified this by saying the prophet Muhammad also lived off the state and attacked it at the same time. “All money belongs to Allah anyway,” he said.

There were other ways to opt out. “All the brothers drive without insurance,” Nasser said proudly.

Bakri was the star attraction that night. Under bright fluorescent lights, he preached to the 50-strong audience about the need for a violent struggle to defend Muslims who, he claimed, were under constant attack.

With a new member in the audience, he added carefully that he was not actually “inciting anyone to violence in the UK”. But the violence was not far away. The following afternoon the reporter witnessed an Asian man being beaten by members of the Saviour Sect for “insulting” their version of Islam.

The victim had struck up an argument with one of the group at the market stall. When he threw a leaflet to the ground he was punched in the face and a fight started. Up to seven members of the sect jumped on the man and began kicking him as he lay on the floor. A late intervention by one of the other stallholders gave him the opportunity to escape — his face swollen and bleeding.

Unabashed, one of group, dressed in an Arabic shawl, shouted out to onlookers: “You should not feel sorry for him. He is a kuffar and deserves it.” Aged between 20 and 30, the members of the sect mostly wore traditional Islamic clothing, although some were in jeans.

Later that day it emerged that the man who had been assaulted had been a member of the moderate Young Muslim Organisation and was also a supporter of Galloway’s Respect party.

One of the sect told the reporter that “the brothers” needed to calm down and stop attracting attention to themselves in public. “They should have taken him round the corner and beaten him there,” he said.

ON July 3, Sheikh Omar Brooks of Al-Ghuraaba addressed the group at its Saturday night lecture.

The 30-year-old, who comes from a Caribbean background and used to work as an electrician, converted to Islam after coming under Bakri’s spell. He claimed that he had had “military training” in Pakistan. His speech that night at Oxford House, a Victorian hall in a side street off Bethnal Green, was intended to stir passions. He said that it was imperative for Muslims to “instil terror into the hearts of the kuffar”.
Occasionally sipping a can of Fanta and gesticulating wildly, he declared: “I am a terrorist. As a Muslim, of course I am a terrorist.”

It was not just our reporter’s group who were present. Schoolchildren in T-shirts bearing the words “mujaheddin” and “warriors of Allah” listened intently as Brooks said he did not wish to die “like an old woman” in bed.

“I want to be blown into pieces,” he declared, “with my hands in one place and my feet in another.”

Brooks — who caused an outcry last week when he told BBC2’s Newsnight that he would not condemn suicide bombers — called on a group of burqa-clad women in the audience to help the fight by making weapons.

He told the audience that it was a Muslim’s duty to stay apart from the rest of society: “Never mix with them. Never let your children play with their children.”
He added: “This hall is like our fortress against the kuffar and the so-called Muslims like the McB (the Muslim Council of Britain).”

Warming to his theme, he said: “They will build bridges and we will break them; they will build tall buildings and we will bring them down.” The audience rippled with laughter at the obvious reference to September 11, 2001.

Nasser’s brother, “Mr Islam” — believed to be Islam Uddin — had started the speeches that evening with his own fiery rhetoric.

He told the audience that Islam was a religion of violence and that Muhammad was the “prophet of slaughter, not peace”. He said Muslims must not be defeatist as “even now the brothers in Iraq are sending British, American and Iraqi colluders back in body bags”.

As his three-year-old son played at his side, he launched into a bitter racist attack. The Jews, he said, were “the most disgusting and greedy people on earth”.

Four days after this meeting, on July 7, London was hit by the first wave of suicide bombings. Immediately the spotlight was thrown onto extremist Muslim groups and, in particular, those linked to Bakri.

The sheikh avoided difficult questions about the attacks by refusing to answer his telephone. He advised all his followers to do the same in the case they incriminated themselves. The sect closed down its meetings and stopped leaflet campaigns, fearing reprisals.

While he was saying nothing publicly, Bakri did, however, address a private meeting held for prayers at the Selby Centre in Wood Green, north London.

Before the prayers started, our reporter joined a small group of men sitting on the floor of the dilapidated 1960s hall in a circle with Bakri.

Bakri sighed. “So, London under attack,” he said. Then, leaning forward, he added: “Between us, for the past 48 hours I’m very happy.”

He drew an analogy for his followers: “The mosquito makes the lion suffer and makes him kill himself. If the mosquito goes up a lion’s nose then he will make him go mad. So don’t underestimate the power of the mosquito.”

In his sermon during the prayer meeting he said that the July 7 attacks would make people “stand up and listen”. He blamed the bombs on the West because they had “raped and killed” innocent Muslims abroad.

Turning to concerns that “poor” people had been attacked in the bus bomb, he argued that this was permissible because the British Army was drawn from lower-income groups.
The congregation was instructed to avoid expressing disapproval of the attacks. “If you cannot support what has happened, then at least don’t condemn it,” Bakri said. If anyone were to ask what they felt about it, they should answer that as Muslims they have no “feelings”, “ideas” or “personal judgment”.

He said that it was better instead to pray for the mujaheddin and to welcome the “beautiful” news from Iraq that the insurgency there had increased.

A member of the congregation who had brought along his two children told the reporter after the sermon that the British could now feel the fear experienced every day by Muslims. Another said that the bombs were “a good start” and asked Allah to “bless those involved”.

The extent of the indoctrination of the members of the Saviour Sect became even clearer during the two weeks in July which saw the failed second attempt to bomb the London transport system.

During the twice-weekly lectures and Friday prayers, men who had struggled to find jobs and, in some cases, had drifted into drug abuse, were told that as true believers they were better than non-Muslims.

“The toe of the Muslim brothers is better than all the kuffar on the earth,“ Bakri said in one sermon. “Islam is superior, nothing supersedes it and the Muslim is superior.”

Other regular speakers claimed that Islam was constantly under attack in Britain — and that the best form of defence was attack.

One, who called himself Zachariah, claimed that the kuffar were trying to “wipe out (Muslims) from the face of the earth”. He implored the group “to cover the land with our blood through martyrdom, martyrdom, martyrdom”.

Zachariah preached that the non-believers were dispensable: “They’re kuffar. They’re not people who are innocent. The people who are innocent are the people who are with us or those who are living under the Islamic state.”

Another preacher, Abu Yahya, who is also reported to go by the name of Abdul Rahman Saleem, argued that Muslims were constantly being subjected to derogatory names by non-believers in an effort to demotivate them. The solution was aggression.

He said: “It says in the Koran that we must try as much as we can to terrorise the enemy . . . we terrorise those people who terrorise us.” His message to Britain was: “Because you’re a genuine democracy, all of you are liable.”

The influence on the younger members of the sect was obvious. Nasser told our reporter not to worry about those who died in the London attacks. They were, he said, “collateral damage” and they were kuffar anyway.
This is not, of course, something that they would say in public. When Bakri finally commented publicly on the bomb attacks, he condemned the deaths of “innocents”. But this was not quite the remorse it seemed.

At Friday prayers, on the day after the second bomb attacks, there was a buzz in the air as Bakri walked into the Selby hall in his brilliant white shalwar kameez.

In the preamble to the sermon he referred to the bombers as the “fantastic four”. He explained that his lament for the “innocent” applied only to Muslims. It was a linguistic sleight of hand which he summarised as: “Yes I condemn killing any innocent people, but not any kuffar.”

IN the wake of the bombings, politicians and police have become increasingly concerned that groups such as the Saviour Sect are radicalising disaffected young men into potential terrorists.

On Friday the prime minister said that the successor groups of Al-Muhajiroun, including the Saviour Sect, could be banned under new anti-terrorist proposals.
At a hastily arranged press conference in Chingford, Essex, in response to the proposals, Bakri said the Al-Muhajiroun group had never supported terror attacks in the UK.

After Friday prayers, five cars full of sect members — including our reporter — drove to Chingford to support him during his press conference. When they arrived, however, they were greeted by Abu Yahya and told to leave quickly without being seen.
One of the group later told our reporter that Bakri had not wanted it to appear as if he were the leader of an organisation. He was still unwilling for it to be known that he was the leader of the Saviour Sect.

Behind the scenes the rhetoric of the sect was not blunted by Blair’s crackdown. Zachariah weighed in with a new bloodcurdling sermon at Friday prayers at the Selby Centre.
“The message of Muhammad,” he told his young congregation, “is how to fight the enemies of Allah; how to execute the enemies of Allah . . . how to return them back to the Allah. Not just through da’wah (invitation); not just through being kind to them; but with the sword.”

He added: “Tony Blair is a Christian. He went to the Pope to praise him . . . and he went to Iraq for only one reason. Because of his ancestors who worked so hard to destroy Islam from the face of the earth.

“To dismantle Islam. To divide and rule . . . him and his ancestors worked hard from the crusaders in the beginning and then their empire building, installing their proxy leaders.”

If the words were just as fiery, the sect was immediately becoming more cautious about its public activities. When our reporter asked for more leaflets and videos, Nasser told him that they had been hidden away.

It appeared that the sect was covering its tracks and preparing to go underground.

Insight team: Ali Hussain and Jonathan Calvert


Lawyers suggested yesterday that it would be difficult to prosecute Bakri and his fellow preachers under existing legislation, although many of their remarks would probably breach new laws proposed by the government to stamp out the glorification and endorsement of terrorism.

Geoffrey Bindman, a leading human rights solicitor, argued that Brooks’s apparent support for suicide bombings and his call for Muslims to “instil terror into the hearts” of non-believers might not be “specific” enough to warrant criminal proceedings.

“If he had said, ‘You must go out and blow yourself up on crowded Tube trains’, then you could say that he’s telling these people to go out and commit murder,” Bindman said. “An incitement in a general rhetorical statement would be difficult to prove as a crime.”

Duncan Lamont, a partner at the Charles Russell law firm, said: “These are intelligent people who are careful about what they say and do. Until now they have been able to cock a snook. Under existing legislation their comments are abhorrent but not illegal.”

However, Bakri’s description of the Tube bombers as “the fantastic four” and Brooks’s comments about the destruction of tall buildings would most likely fall foul of a new offence of indirect incitement or glorifying terrorist acts. “If you could satisfy a jury that he meant 9/11, then under what is proposed you have him bang to rights,” Lamont said.

Copyright 2005 Times Newspapers Ltd.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Concert Review: Springsteen in Milwaukee

Nuance, intimacy rule performance
Springsteen keeps it quiet
Journal Sentinel pop music critic
Posted: Aug. 7, 2005

It's a tall order to make the cavernous Bradley Center feel intimate.

But despite the questionable venue, Bruce Springsteen's solo, not-quite-acoustic concert Sunday night was a showcase for the icon's formidable musical talents and charm.

Black curtains draped ceiling to floor behind the stage made the 20,000-seat venue seem roughly a third of its size, and a crystalline mix assured excellent sound for the near-capacity crowd, but the venue still felt too large and impersonal for two hours of Springsteen's most riveting musical character studies.

Tales of sin, the struggle to survive and, occasionally, redemption, flowed out from the stage throughout the set, beginning with opening tune "Shut Out the Light" and carrying through to the encores, which included "Does This Bus Stop at 82nd St.?" and "The Promised Land."

While some may prefer Springsteen's other incarnation, as the rabble-rousing ringleader of the E Street Circus, Sunday's performance was an arguably stronger testament to his skills as both musician and storyteller of a thousand nuances.

Moving without pause among guitar, harmonica, organ and piano, Springsteen re-imagined several of the songs on the set list, such as "The Rising," which he performed with raw urgency.
"Jesus Was an Only Son," from this year's spare and brilliant "Devils & Dust," evoked far more emotion and humanity than all the cinematic blood-splatter of "The Passion of the Christ."

The parent-child relationship was a common theme throughout the evening. Describing his teenage son bringing home his first girlfriend, Springsteen revealed he wasn't a hovering kind of dad. Well, sorta.

Quipped the singer: "You can't stand around and watch 'em, it's not a zoo. So I hid behind a bush."

From the Aug. 8, 2005, editions of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Steve Knopper: Springsteen's Quieter, Moodier Side Speaks Volumes

Special to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Last Updated: Aug. 6, 2005

Bruce Springsteen has built his reputation on 30 years of rock 'n' roll concerts in which he shouted himself hoarse, slid across the stage on his knees and danced to a backbeat resembling a thunderstorm strained through an amplifier.

For years, he was rarely quiet on stage, lowering the volume only occasionally for a grand-piano version of "Thunder Road" or "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out." His sparse, acoustic-guitar album "Nebraska," when it came out in 1982, was the lone anomaly in a loud body of work.

But Springsteen, 56, is today the veteran of three acoustic albums, a moody and quiet hit single, "Streets of Philadelphia," and two soft-spoken solo tours, including this year's "Devils & Dust," which stops tonight at the Bradley Center.

His collection of Woody Guthrie-style ballads and quiet, moody anthems is starting to catch up to his better-known catalog of "Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)" "Born in the U.S.A." and "Badlands."
His 1995 "The Ghost of Tom Joad" tour was the singer's first attempt at on-stage solitude - he hushed the crowd, which seemed strange at the time - but "Devils & Dust" is a major leap forward.

With a variety of instruments, including pump organ, electrified harmonica and acoustic guitar, he retools familiar songs from "Nebraska" so they're almost unrecognizable, gives folksy speeches, slows the staple "The Promised Land" into a dirge and throws in rarities from "Wild Billy's Circus Story" to "The Promise."

So with due respect to "Rosalita" and his other frantic rock 'n' rollers, here's a list of Springsteen's 11 best quiet songs, many of which he plays on the "Devils & Dust" tour:

• "Thunder Road" (acoustic live version, from "Live/1975-'85"): Springsteen has performed the epic opener from 1975's "Born to Run" live hundreds of times, in several different configurations, from out-and-out rocking to almost a hymn. This 1975 version, with the singer accompanying himself on piano, perfectly captures the melancholy and adventure at the heart of the song.

• "Stolen Car" (from 1980's "The River"): There are few more frightening characters in rock lyrics than the man who drives a stolen car down on Eldridge Ave., lamenting his torn-apart marriage and muttering unconvincingly to himself that "I'm gonna be all right." Undoubtedly, he went on to commit the crimes depicted in "Nebraska," released two years later.

• "Johnny 99" (from "Nebraska"): The most memorable song on an album of low-key rock 'n' roll classics, "Johnny 99" is about a man who loses his job, kills a night clerk, stands before a judge, hears his mother cry and goes away for a long, long time. Jamming his harmonica into a microphone, Springsteen re-imagines it as slurred, Howlin' Wolf-style blues on the "Devils & Dust" tour.

• "Meeting Across the River" (from 1975's "Born to Run"): The morning-after antidote to the wild-eyed mayhem on "Born to Run," this whispery story-song (complete with jazz trumpet) about a man seduced into a drug deal is a cautionary tale indeed.
• "Cautious Man" (from 1987's "Tunnel of Love"): Springsteen pulled this obscurity - about the man with "love" and "fear" tattooed on opposite hands - out of nowhere earlier this year on his solo tour. It's a reminder of how many gems are hidden on the underrated "Tunnel of Love."

• "Streets of Philadelphia" (from the "Philadelphia" soundtrack): Springsteen has used soft, ghostly synthesizers in many songs, but none are more evocative than this barebones story of AIDS patients changing physical form and preparing for death.

• "Youngstown" (from "The Ghost of Tom Joad"): John Kerry picked "No Surrender" for his campaign anthem, but no song in Springsteen's repertoire quite captures the bust following the steel-mill boom as well as this bleak northeastern Ohio anthem.

• "Johnny Bye Bye" (B-side): Elvis is dead! But who's this "Johnny" kid riding in the hearse, in this haunted, minor-key homage to both the King and Chuck Berry's "Bye Bye Johnny"?

• "Paradise" (from 2002's "The Rising"): Springsteen proved on "Nebraska" that he could inhabit first-person songs about American murderers and bandits as well as Johnny Cash or Marty Robbins. Here he pulls the same trick with Middle Eastern suicide bombers - with equally disturbing if not quite so empathetic results.

• "My Beautiful Reward" (from 1992's "Lucky Town"): As with everything else on his early-'90s misfire "Lucky Town," this mid-tempo rocker is overproduced and a little peppy, but in recent concerts Springsteen has brought it back to life - on a pipe organ. It has one great metaphor: "I came crashing down like a drunk on a barroom floor."

• "Reno" (from "Devils & Dust"): On record, this profane ode to a hooker and her devoted client comes across like the dirty-old-man sequel to the older rocker "Candy's Room." In concert, Springsteen gives the new song life and context, and the protagonist's desperation and self-hatred come across in vivid, sympathetic detail.

Appeared in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Aug. 7, 2005.

Antiochian Orthodox Church Leaves NCC

Good News- Antiochian Orthodox Church Leaves National Council of Churches
Press Release: Institute for Religion and Democracy

The nearly 400,000 member Antiochian Orthodox Church of America has voted overwhelmingly to leave the National Council of Churches (NCC) because of its liberalism.
"This decision by the Antiochian Orthodox is good news for all who care about genuine Christian ecumenism, as opposed to the faux ecumenism of the NCC, whose primary concern is politics, not churches," commented the IRD's Mark Tooley.

On July 28, the Archdiocesan convention for the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America voted to quit the NCC. The vote, which according to one account was unanimous, was followed by a standing ovation. Metropolitan Philip Saliba, the church's senior cleric, outspokenly supported the withdrawal.

An Antiochian church spokesman told Ecumenical News International that the NCC had "lost its goal of Christian unity on a doctrinal basis." He also said that church officials were displeased by a recent NCC fundraising letter that urged church members to fight conservatives. The Institute on Religion and Democracy was among the groups the NCC fundraising letter attacked.

Support for homosexual causes was also mentioned in Antiochian circles as a reason for leaving the NCC. Bob Edgar, the NCC's general secretary, withdrew his signature from a "Christian Marriage Declaration" with Roman Catholics and Evangelicals several years ago because homosexual groups were upset over the declaration's assertion that marriage is a union of a man and a woman.

The NCC now has 35 member denominations. As it receives less funding from its member denominations, the NCC has been relying increasingly on support from liberal foundations, political advocacy groups and direct mail campaigns. Bob Edgar, a former Democratic congressman from Pennsylvania and an ordained United Methodist minister, has further accentuated the NCC's political focus and outspoken criticism of the Bush Administration.

The NCC was founded originally over 50 years ago to foster Christian unity. But its focus has shifted over the decades towards political themes. All of its leading mainline denomination members have been suffering membership decline for most of 40 years.

"We hope the Antiochian departure from the NCC will encourage other communions to reconsider their participation in the NCC and seek out alternatives that actually strengthen the Body of Christ rather than divide it with dubious political causes," Mark Tooley concluded.

Thomas Sowell: Trashing Our History; Hiroshima
Thomas Sowell (archive)
August 9, 2005

Every August, there are some Americans who insist on wringing their hands over the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, so it was perhaps inevitable that such people would have an orgy of wallowing in guilt on the 60th anniversary of that tragic day. Time magazine has page after page of photographs of people scarred by the radiation, as if General Sherman had not already said long ago that war is hell.

Winston Churchill once spoke of the secrets of the atom, "hitherto mercifully withheld from man." We can all lament that this terrible power of mass destruction has been revealed to the world and fear its ominous consequences for us all, including our children and grandchildren. But that is wholly different from saying that a great moral evil was committed when the first atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

What was new about these bombs was the technology, not the morality. More people were killed with ordinary bombs in German cities or in Tokyo. Vastly more people were killed with ordinary bullets and cannon on the Russian front. Morality is about what you do to people, not the technology you use.

The guilt-mongers have twisted the facts of history beyond recognition in order to say that it was unnecessary to drop those atomic bombs. Japan was going to lose the war anyway, they say. What they don't say is -- at what price in American lives? Or even in Japanese lives?

Much of the self-righteous nonsense that abounds on so many subjects cannot stand up to three questions: (1) Compared to what? (2) At what cost? and (3) What are the hard facts?

The alternative to the atomic bombs was an invasion of Japan, which was already being planned for 1946, and those plans included casualty estimates even more staggering than the deaths that have left a sea of crosses in American cemeteries at Normandy and elsewhere. "Revisionist" historians have come up with casualty estimates a small fraction of what the American and British military leaders responsible for planning the invasion of Japan had come up with.

Who are we to believe, those who had personally experienced the horrors of the war in the Pacific, and who had a lifetime of military experience, or leftist historians hot to find something else to blame America for?

During the island-hopping war in the Pacific, it was not uncommon for thousands of Japanese troops to fight to the death on an island, while the number captured were a few dozen. Even some Japanese soldiers too badly wounded to stand would lie where they fell until an American medical corpsman approached to treat their wounds -- and then they would set off a grenade to kill them both.

In the air the same spirit led the kamikaze pilots to deliberately crash their planes into American ships and bombers.

Japan's plans for defense against invasion involved mobilizing the civilian population, including women and children, for the same suicidal battle tactics. That invasion could have been the greatest bloodbath in history.

No mass killing, especially of civilians, can leave any humane person happy. But compared to what? Compared to killing many times more Japanese and seeing many times more American die?

We might have gotten a negotiated peace if we had dropped the "unconditional surrender" demand. But at what cost? Seeing a militaristic Japan arise again in a few years, this time armed with nuclear weapons that they would not have hesitated for one minute to drop on Americans.

As it was, the unconditional surrender of Japan enabled General Douglas MacArthur to engineer one of the great historic transformations of a nation from militarism to pacifism, to the relief of hundreds of millions of their neighbors, who had suffered horribly at the hands of their Japanese conquerors.

The facts may deprive the revisionists of their platform for lashing out at America and for the ego trip of moral preening but, fear not, they will find or manufacture other occasions for that. The rest of us need to understand what irresponsible frauds they are -- and how the stakes are too high to let the 4th estate succeed as a 5th column undermining the society on which our children and grandchildren's security will depend.

©2005 Creators Syndicate, Inc.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Trying to Keep MLB Records Pure Could Be Futile

August 8, 2005
Trying to Keep Records Pure Could Prove to Be Futile
The New York Times

TORONTO, Aug. 5 - For all the reverence that baseball's record book receives - few volumes are treated so sacredly - the sport has, historically, never been inclined to penalize the convicted or admitted cheats within it.

Consider Gaylord Perry, who from 1962 to 1983 unabashedly threw pitches slathered with Vaseline while winning 314 games and earning entry into the Hall of Fame. Or Norm Cash, a slugger for the Detroit Tigers, who in 1961 admittedly corked his bat and hit an impressive .361 with 41 home runs and 132 runs batted in; in his next 13 seasons in the major leagues, he never finished with a batting average above .283.

Their numbers live forever in encyclopedias and on various lists, as if they had been accomplished squarely within the rules.

But with the recent 10-day suspension of the Baltimore Orioles' Rafael Palmeiro, who tested positive for using steroids, the debate was joined once again over how, or even whether, to enter steroid-tainted achievements in the record books.
One might expect that the disclosure would outrage the records committee of the Society for American Baseball Research, a worldwide organization of nearly 7,000 intent on maintaining the integrity of baseball's historical record. The group held its annual meeting here.

The members of this committee are known for two things: caring deeply about home runs, batting averages and other statistical details; and, just as starkly, never agreeing on anything. After all, these are the people who argue for days about a double here and a putout there, and whether Ferdie Schupp of the New York Giants actually posted the National League's lowest earned run average back in 1916 - a jaw-dropping 0.90.

The group of about 50 experts, mostly middle-aged men wearing the jerseys or caps of their favorite team, almost immediately reached a consensus on the steroids quandary. Perhaps more reflexively than most baseball fans who were stung by Palmeiro's suspension, most of these seasoned numbers buffs remained resignedly pragmatic when determining how steroids should be dealt with in the record book.

Sports statistics are elevated to almost iconic status. They are as identifiable as any face or corporate logo. But to these committee members, they remain unalterable facts, simple if not pure.
"We're not moralists," said Lyle Spatz, the committee's chairman. "We count which players hit such-and-such home runs, not whether they quote-unquote deserved them."
David Vincent, who specializes in information about home runs, brought up Whitey Ford, who admitted to throwing doctored baseballs late in his career. "Where's the moral indignation there?" Vincent said.

When talk turned to how baseball's playing conditions have evolved - from night games and integration to artificial turf and tiny strike zones - one member sarcastically suggested that all 20th century hitters be thrown out because fielders now wear gloves.
All sports have learned that trying to unring the bell for any reason, cheating or otherwise, has always been a rather clunky exercise, one that not only rings hollow but is often rescinded decades later.

Baseball can lay claim to the most awkward instance of all, the handling of Roger Maris's 61 home runs in 1961. That year, the season had been extended to 162 games, 8 games more than when Babe Ruth set the record of 60 in 1927. Baseball officials, wanting to protect Ruth's majesty, decided to list both Yankees as record-holders. (Contrary to legend, an asterisk by Maris's name was never used.)
But soon after baseball became used to the 162-game schedule, fans and officials realized that the distinction was long obsolete. In 1991, Fay Vincent, the commissioner of Major League Baseball at the time, officially removed Ruth's name and left Maris alone, confirming that in sports, even mental asterisks have half-lives.

The higher home run totals posted recently - particularly the 70 by Mark McGwire in 1998 and the 73 by Barry Bonds in 2001 - have grown troublesome because of questions about the role steroids might have played. McGwire's "I'm not here to discuss the past" testimony to a Congressional committee in March led to suspicion over what that past included. Several months earlier, The San Francisco Chronicle reported that Bonds, speaking to a grand jury investigating the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, had admitted to unknowingly using a banned substance.
Around that time, Bud Selig, the current commissioner, said that he could not even consider altering the record book because "there have been no players convicted of anything." He added, "That's a question that if there's a necessity I'll look at something in the future."

McGwire, who retired in 2001, and Bonds, who has not played this season because of injury, have not been cited by Major League Baseball as having failed a drug test. But with the news about Palmeiro - one of only four players to reach 3,000 hits and 500 home runs - the issue became more real and immediate.
"I want to know exactly what happened," Selig said Friday through a spokesman for Major League Baseball. "I want to know all the facts. Then I'll make a decision."
Major League Baseball's approach in the past has been to do nothing at all, even after a clear admission.
Cash, the Tigers slugger, admitted his deception in a magazine article, a wink-wink mea culpa that others have used after they believed the statute of limitations on their crimes had expired.
Ford, who played 16 seasons with the Yankees, and another pitching star from the 1950's, Preacher Roe of the Brooklyn Dodgers, claimed to have thrown illegally doctored baseballs. Roe's first-person exposé in Sports Illustrated carried the headline, "The Outlawed Spitball Was My Money Pitch," but no adjustments to their records have been made or seriously suggested.

Who knows how many times Richie Ashburn of the Phillies in the 1950's bunted safely because the third-base line at Philadelphia's Shibe Park was purposely sloped? In 1968, when Mickey Mantle was tied with Jimmie Foxx at 534 career home runs, Detroit Tigers pitcher Denny McLain is said to have offered to throw Mantle the next pitch wherever he wanted. Mantle then hammered the ball over the fence and moved ahead of Foxx.

Usually, amateur sports go through the often clumsy process of removing or altering records stained by foul play, with the Olympics at the forefront. Jim Thorpe was stripped of his gold medals from the 1912 Games after it was revealed that he had played professional baseball in 1909 and 1910. (They were officially returned in 1982, almost 30 years after his death, after the purity of amateurism had eroded.)

In the modern era, failing a drug test results in immediate forfeiture of medals and records, the most famous example being the sprinter Ben Johnson in 1988.
For many years, college basketball expunged records of entire teams because of the transgression of one player. The 1971 Villanova basketball team, for example, reached the Final Four with a star forward, Howard Porter, who was later declared ineligible for having signed with an agent before the tournament. Villanova's listing in the record book was erased, or, in N.C.A.A. parlance, vacated. Little League Baseball has followed the same course with teams later discovered to have used players older than rules allow.

"We were named champions something like three months after the Little League World Series," said Sean Burroughs, the star of the team from Long Beach, Calif., which was awarded the 1992 Series championship after the Philippines was found to have ineligible players. Burroughs is now a third baseman in the San Diego Padres organization.

"We won, but it's not like we jumped up and down on the field," he said. "It was kind of weird."
The revisionist impulse, to purge unsavory memories, derives from basic human instincts, according to Dr. William S. Pollack, a psychoanalyst and an assistant clinical professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School.

"There's an urge for revenge and retribution toward the people who let us down, but there's more to it than that," he said in a telephone interview. "Deep inside we want to forget that these bad things happened, that our trust in someone was betrayed. We look to the gods because we feel so frail, right? Removing them from the history is a way to pretend the person didn't exist."

On Thursday night, members of the Society for American Baseball Research records committee, which has no relationship with Major League Baseball, reconciled their feelings and agreed that little could or should be done to denote any player's use of illegal steroids. Members cited how many artificial factors - like smaller ballparks, harder bats, smaller strike zones, legitimate weight-training and, yes, fielders wearing gloves - have affected statistics since the days of Alexander Cartwright. Determining how a player may have benefited from steroids, they said, would be a foolish exercise, particularly with no effort to revise the totals of players like Cash, Ford and Roe.

Moreover, they said, one of baseball's longtime allures has been in its perfect, double-entry bookkeeping; every home run by a hitter is yielded by a pitcher, every stolen base by a team is one allowed by its opponent. Taking away whatever portion of home runs Palmeiro might have hit under the influence of steroids, a figure impossible to determine, would immediately throw this delicate balance out of whack.

"We hate the idea of the asterisk or removing records because they're examples of simple-minded thinking that caves in if you think about it for 10 minutes," Bill James, the renowned baseball statistics expert and a consultant for the Boston Red Sox, said during the meeting.
Players have always broken rules, the experts said. Using steroids may also be a violation of federal law, but it was quickly noted that Babe Ruth was not exactly sober for all 637 of the home runs he hit during Prohibition.
"A record's a record," David Vincent said during the meeting. "A number doesn't have any moral value. People do."
"Or don't," several members added.

Palmeiro, Steroids Smear a Whole Era of Players

John Gambadoro
Aug. 8, 2005 08:55 AM
The Arizona Republic

Mark Grace is fighting mad. But he is not alone. Joe Morgan, Will Clark, Frank Robinson, Andy Van Slyke and many others are ticked off to no end. The steroids scandal that has wrecked baseball - no matter how Bud Selig spins it - is not going away.

Yes attendance is up and the majority of teams are still playing in August for something and that is all good. But Rafael Palmiero just got busted for steroids and the fans' trust in the players has never been worse. Grace is upset because he played the game the right way and he will forever be lumped in with the cheaters, of which there were and are many.

Grace came into the big leagues in 1988 and he knew of players who were taking steroids then. He was around it; he was asked about it, he was offered it. But he balked at taking the drug. In his career Grace hit 20 home runs zero times. He drove in 100 runs zero times. In 16 years he had 173 home runs. But he was a hit machine. He had more hits than any other player in the 1990s and he finished with 2,445 of them. And every one of them was real.

"It bothers me that guys like myself, Tony Gwynn, Jay Bell and Matt Williams, guys who played the game the right way are lumped in with this era," Grace said. "Some of us were playing fair."

Grace points to 2007 as a big year to determine how the steroids scandal will truly affect the players who cheated. He looks at Mark McGwire, who will be eligible for the Hall of Fame that year, and questions whether he will be enshrined. When asked if he would vote for him, Grace says, "No. At least not on the first ballot." He calls McGwire's numbers "artificial" and believes that steroids clearly made a difference in the power numbers for many of the players of that era.

"It probably started in the early '90s when we started seeing monsters like (Jose) Canseco and other enormous guys coming around. You were like wow! Those guys are enormous. Then guys started hitting balls where nobody ever did. Before Mark McGwire got to St. Louis there had only been three balls ever hit in Busch Stadium's upper deck. Mark hit like 40 of them up there."

Grace, the former Cubs and Diamondbacks star who now is a broadcaster with Arizona, believes steroids played a huge role in a player's production. "If a player had warning track power and he took steroids to get stronger, those balls are now going over the wall for a home run. And balls are getting through the infield quicker as well."

In his years in the minor leagues Grace played with Palmiero in the Cubs organization. He says Palmiero was a good player with average-at-best power. In his first three full seasons in the major leagues Palmiero hit a total of 30 home runs in 1,737 at bats. He followed those seasons with years in which he hit 22 and 26 respectively. Palmiero had spent parts of seven seasons in the majors and had never hit more than 26 home runs in a season and was not known as a power hitter. But the year after he became teammates with Jose Canseco at Texas in 1992 Palmiero's home-run numbers went up big time. He hit 37 home runs in 1993 and drove in 100 runs for the first time in his career. He would hit 30 or more home runs 10 times in 11 years and four times hit more than 40.

"There were suspicions about Raffy," Grace said. "He was mentioned in Jose Canseco's book. Put it this way: If Jose had mentioned me and I know I'm not a user I would slap him with a libel suit before he could say Jackie Robinson. To my knowledge none of the guys who were mentioned in the book have done that."

Palmiero has clearly damaged his reputation beyond repair. He comes off as liar and a cheat. He was adamant about not taking steroids in front of Congress only to be found out as a fraud a few months later. His chances for the Hall of Fame are slim at best now.

The best thing the baseball writers who have a Hall of Fame vote can do is to honor the players in this era who respected the game and played it the right way. In other words, they should not vote for those we know have cheated. That includes McGwire, Palmiero, Jason Giambi and Barry Bonds. It would be very difficult to not vote for Sammy Sosa based on speculation. Grace pointed out that Sosa gained 40 to 50 pounds from the time he first met him to the time he became a pure power hitter. But while all of baseball is waiting for Sosa to mess up, unless he does there isn't much to keep him out.

The sad part about the steroids era is that Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Robinson, Mickey Mantle and all of those who played the game the right way are being surpassed by those who have done it artificially. That is not right and hopefully, one day, baseball can right this wrong by any means necessary."It's a bad, bad era and unfortunately I'll be looked back on as a part of it," Grace said. "I'm pissed off at all of this stuff. Looking back on it, it's crazy. I'm almost ashamed to have been a part of it for 16 years."

And us fans are just as ashamed to have supported it.

Concert Review: Springsteen in St. Louis

Springsteen enters new territory yet reaffirms his roots at Fox
Of the Post-Dispatch Monday, Aug. 08 2005

More than 30 years since the release of his debut album, "Greetings From Asbury Park," Bruce Springsteen continues to reinvent his work, replenish his vast inventory and reassert his command of an audience. His latest incarnation was on crackling display Saturday night at the Fox Theatre, where Springsteen's solo acoustic performance was at once animated but intimate, vigorous but restrained, and ventured into new terrain while reaffirming his essential roots.

If the show was notable for eight songs from Springsteen's newest album, "Devils and Dust," it also was distinguished by 16 other songs spanning much of Springsteen's career. That included a piercing version of "Backstreets," believed to be the first time on this tour Springsteen has dipped into the landmark "Born to Run" album, which still is a highlight of his tours with the E Street Band.

Adding to the luster of "Back- streets" and, in fact, the entire night, was Springsteen's banter with the audience, which for the most part was remarkably silent in accordance with his wishes.

"I'm going to take a swing at this thing," he said as he sat down at the piano without naming the song and noted, "I've never played this before by myself ... and I'll never play it again." Then he said, "All right, all right, let me prepare," then briefly went "ommmm," laughed and struck the notes that immediately resonated with longtime fans.

The sense of unscripted storytelling and spontaneity with the crowd was part of the marrow of Springsteen's early career that made him a mesmerizing force. Some of that sheer whimsical component had given way to rehearsed exchanges during Springsteen and the E Street Band's reunion and "The Rising" tours - perhaps understandably enough given the sophistication and scale of those rousing productions. The ornate and warm Fox, which Springsteen noted that St. Louis is lucky to have, provided an apt setting for him to resume his traditional stance with the crowd.

He has been revisiting that since this tour began in April - and doing so with more vibrancy than he did on the 1996 solo acoustic tour underscored by his grim release, "The Ghost of Tom Joad." His renewed accessibility created the perception of shared experience that enhanced the night - even when Springsteen botched the lyrics as during "County Fair." Staring at the music sheet and chortling to himself as the crowd laughed along, Springsteen said he may just have to "skip over that line" and simply moved on.

Some of Springsteen's ease was slightly jarring. He used expletives a half-dozen times or more, and from the new album he played the sexually explicit song "Reno" with no forewarning for those with children in the audience, as he had given in Chicago in May. Part of the enduring magic of Springsteen is the mystery, the way the show changes from night to night. The performance at the Fox featured nine song changes from his last show Wednesday in Grand Rapids, Mich., which came after his two shows in Ohio featured 38 different songs.

Other highlights of the night included an unsettling but riveting version of "Reason to Believe," marked by his rhythmic stomp and use of a harmonica with a distorting microphone. "The River" seemed to evoke nearly as much response as "Back- streets." Also particularly well-received were "Highway Patrolman" and "The Rising." The encore featured "Cynthia," "Wild Billy's Circus Story" and a scaled-down but stirring "Promised Land." He ended the night as he has many shows on the tour with "Dream Baby Dream," a repetitive, previously obscure tune that left some grumbling and others feeling it was an uptempo message to absorb and take to heart.

Post-Dispatch reporter Vahe Gregorian has a longtime fascination with Bruce Springsteen; this was approximately his 38th Springsteen concert.

Reporter Vahe Gregorian E-mail:
Phone: 314-340-8199

Michael Barone: Cultures Aren't Equal
Michael Barone (archive)
August 8, 2005

Anyone who has been keeping up with British opinion since the July 7 bombings will have noticed that "multiculturalism" is under sharp attack. Multiculturalism preaches that we should allow and encourage immigrants and their children to maintain and celebrate their own culture apart from the national culture. Society should be not a melting pot but, in the phrase of former New York Mayor David Dinkins, "a gorgeous mosaic." That mosaic, of course, looks less gorgeous as people surveyed the work of the British-born-and-raised bombers.

In the past, Tony Blair has spoken favorably about multiculturalism. But on July 7, he struck a different note. "It is important, however, that the terrorists realize our determination to defend our values and our way of life is greater than their determination to cause the death and destruction of innocent people and impose their extremism on the world."

Sadly, the muticulturalist policies of Blair's Labor government and its Conservative predecessors gave refuge to preachers of Islamist hate in what some have called "Londonistan."

Even before the bombings that prompted second thoughts, the chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality said, "We need to assert that there is a core of Britishness," and the home secretary introduced English language tests for citizenship. Now, the Blair government has moved to expel Muslim clerics who preach hatred and terrorism, and the left-wing Guardian fired a writer who was a member of Hizb Ut Tahrir, a radical group that advocates a "clash of civilization" and urges Muslims to kill Jews.

Writers in other tolerant countries have been noticing the blowback from multiculturalism. The Dutch novelist Leon de Winter wrote that as traditional Calvinist discipline frayed and Muslim immigrants rejected Dutch tolerance, "the delicate mechanism of Holland's traditional tolerant society gradually lost its balance."

In The Age of Melbourne, Australia, Pamela Bone wrote, "Perhaps it is time to say, you are welcome, but this is the way it is here." The Age's Tony Parkinson quoted the French writer Jean Francois Revel's Cold War comment, "A civilization that feels guilty for everything it is and does will lack the energy and conviction to defend itself." Tolerating intolerance, goodhearted people are beginning to see, does not necessarily produce tolerance in turn.

The conservative Telegraph of London ran a series of articles on extolling Britishness and placed on its website the contributions, positive as well as a few negative, of dozens of citizens. The nonagenarian W.F. Deedes, a journalist since the 1930s, perhaps summed it up best: "The reputation we have in distant lands, I have learned in my travels, is higher than we give ourselves. They admire us for our social stability, our parliamentary and diplomatic experience, for fair play, for tolerance, for a willingness to help lame dogs over stiles, as well as for some of the qualities Shakespeare sang about in his plays."

When I was in Britain for the election in May, I was surprised to hear nothing from Tony Blair (or other politicians) about Britain's positive contributions to the world. Now, they are being heard.

Multiculturalism is based on the lie that all cultures are morally equal. In practice, that soon degenerates to: All cultures are morally equal, except ours, which is worse. But all cultures are not equal in respecting representative government, guaranteed liberties and the rule of law. And those things arose not simultaneously and in all cultures, but in certain specific times and places -- mostly in Britain and America, but also in various parts of Europe.

In America, as in Britain, multiculturalism has become the fashion in large swathes of our society. So the Founding Fathers are presented only as slaveholders, World War II is limited to the internment of Japanese-Americans and the bombing of Hiroshima. Slavery is identified with America, though it has existed in every society and the antislavery movement arose first among English-speaking evangelical Christians.

But most Americans know there is something special about our cultural heritage. While Harvard and Brown are replacing scholars of the founding period with those studying other things, book-buyers are snapping up first-rate histories of the Founders by David McCullough, Joseph Ellis and Ron Chernow.

Mutilculturalist intellectuals do not think our kind of society is worth defending. But millions here and increasing numbers in Britain and other countries know better.

Michael Barone is a senior writer for U.S. News & World Report and principal coauthor of The Almanac of American Politics.

David Francis: Time to Get Real About Enforcing Immigration Laws

Time to get real about enforcing immigration laws
By David R. Francis
The Christian Science Monitor
8 August 2005

If Washington really wanted to, it could decidedly shrink the number of immigrants illegally crossing the borders and living in the United States: Just enforce the law.

As it is, immigration law appears tough. But illegal immigrants and their employers can easily avoid being caught. Given that there are more than 10 million undocumented residents (a number growing by about 500,000 a year), the chances of an illegal immigrant being deported are minuscule. In 2003, only 445 undocumented workers were arrested at a job site in the US. That's out of a total population of 6.3 million illegal workers (a number that excludes nonworking spouses and children).

"We must replace the old 'nudge nudge, wink wink' system - overly strict laws that we can't, and in many cases don't even try to, uphold - with a new bargain: realistic laws, enforced to the letter," said Tamar Jacoby, a senior fellow with the Manhattan Institute, at a Senate hearing late last month.

Americans would like Congress to tackle illegal immigration.

"There does seem to be, post-9/11, greater resistance to immigration," says Ana Maria Arumi, research director for Public Agenda in New York.

A recent survey of 1,004 adults by that nonpartisan public policy group found that tightening immigration ranked second among a list of proposals to improve US security. (Improving intelligence operations topped the list.) Three quarters of respondents gave the US a "C" or worse in protecting US borders. Nearly one-quarter gave a failing grade.

The public may still like the idealistic inscription on the Statue of Liberty: "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free...." To this, Americans have added, "but not your potential terrorists."

Reacting to such concerns, Congress passed the Real ID Act this spring. It requires states to design their driver's licenses to meet federal antiterrorist standards by 2008. Identification documents, such as passports or Social Security cards, are to be checked against federal databases.

Also, two major immigration bills are before Congress, and President Bush has proposed a guest-worker immigration plan.

Whether Congress will pass a new law this year is unknown. Immigration restrictions will be opposed by law firms and others that make their living from immigrants, churches hoping to acquire new members from abroad, and businesses that benefit from illegal workers' low wages.

A massive national sweep to deport illegal immigrants is unrealistic. "[T]he dirty secret is that we couldn't deport 10 million illegal immigrants if we wanted to," Sen. John Cornyn (R) of Texas has noted. He's an author of the more stern of the two bills before Congress.

For one reason, it would be costly. A new study by Rajeev Goyle and David A. Jaeger for the Center for American Progress in Washington calculates the cost of mass deportation to be at least $206 billion over five years. The annual cost of $41 billion would exceed the entire budget of the Department of Homeland Security ($34.2 billion) and would be more than double the annual spending on border and transportation security ($19.3 billion).

The study calculates the costs of apprehension, detention, legal processing, and transportation to countries of origin. It assumes that 20 percent of illegal immigrants would leave voluntarily.
Given the horror stories that would arise from a forced exodus, it would soon be a political impossibility.

So, some suggest, the only alternative is some form of legalization of the illegal immigrants. But don't call it "amnesty," which is a highly unpopular idea.

An alternative strategy would involve making it harder for immigrants to find and keep jobs in the US by enforcing the law against hiring illegal immigrants.

"Cracking down on employers is important," says Mr. Goyle. "If jobs were less available [to illegal immigrants], presumably fewer people would come" across US borders without valid documents or overstay their legal visas.

A plan by Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies in Washington, would combine an increase in conventional enforcement - arrests, prosecutions, deportations, asset seizures, etc. - with expanded use of a system for verifying the status of new employees and those applying for a mortgage, car loan, or driver's license. The idea would be "to make it as difficult and unpleasant as possible to live here illegally," he says.

If the plan were implemented, Mr. Krikorian says, it would prompt illegals to deport themselves, gradually reducing the illegal population. "There must be an end to the climate of impunity for border jumping, and illegal employment, and fake documents, and immigration fraud," he adds.

The Real ID Act could establish de facto a national identification system. An existing experimental system for verifying the legal status of new hires could be made compulsory, rather than voluntary. Employers should face real penalties for hiring illegal immigrants, not slaps on the wrist.

The problem with the two major bills before Congress, the other being that of Sens. John McCain (R) of Arizona and Edward Kennedy (D) of Massachusetts, is that they assume a federal bureaucratic capacity to screen millions of immigrants using new systems. Says Krikorian: "That does not exist."