Friday, June 02, 2006

Leading news stories from Oceania on June 1, 2006

Stolen classified files from the Ministry of Truth in London:

Top News Stories
Appeasing the Appeasers
Revolt of the Small-Government Conservatives
The People Does Not Know What It Wills
Surprising Surprise
Despotism Update
Europe's Suicide
1. Appeasing the Appeasers What is it about working for the State Department—ostensibly the home of the world's top professional negotiators—that destroys a person's ability to negotiate? I ask this because the more time I have to reflect on Condoleezza Rice's gambit of offering Iran direct negotiations with the US if it suspends uranium enrichment, the clearer it becomes what a colossal and obvious blunder it is.

Within a day of Condi's proposal, the international debate is not—as she had planned—over whether Iran should suspend its enrichment. Instead, as I suspected, the debate is over whether the Bush administration should drop its preconditions for talks with Iran. In other words, having appeased Iran's European appeasers, we are being asked to make even more concessions.

To their credit, both the Wall Street Journal and the New York Sun have identified the proposal as a crucial error. The other good news, according to a New York Times report on the internal White House debate, is that President Bush approved this proposal because he expected it to fail, allowing him to "check off the box" of diplomacy before he can "confront Iran."

If so, however, this is a repeat of his mistake before the Iraq War: slowing down action and undermining America's diplomatic position in a futile attempt to prove that he had jumped through every hoop that the UN held up.

"Iran Says It Is Ready for Talks, but Sidesteps US Terms," Steven R. Weisman and John O'Neil, New York Times, June 1 Iran's foreign minister said today that his country was willing to talk with the United States about its nuclear program, but did not say that Tehran would agree to the condition set by President Bush—the suspension of all activity related to uranium enrichment….

The American offer to take part in negotiations, announced on Wednesday by Ms. Rice was a shift away from decades of refusal to hold broad, direct talks with Iran. But Iran has long said it would not agree to preconditions, and the administration's offer appeared to be aimed as much at placating American allies as at wooing Iran.

Mr. Mottaki seemed to make the same point this morning. The official Iranian news agency said that he described Ms. Rice's proposal as being meant to save the United States from becoming further isolated on the issue. "The US made the offer of incentives to others in order to materialize its own demands, which reflect its conceitedness," he said, according to the agency.
But Mr. Mottaki also spoke of "just conditions" for talks, a shift from harder-line statements in recent months from Iranian officials, who had called for a resumption of talks with the Europeans but always on a basis of no preconditions.

Mr. Mottaki's statements could represent a rejection of the offer, or an ambiguous opening for more discussion—which itself could represent a play for time. American officials have long warned their European allies against allowing Iran to drag out talks while continuing its nuclear progress.

2. Revolt of the Small-Government Conservatives There has been a lot of talk about the possibility that the Republicans will lose control of the House in this fall's midterm congressional elections. As a recent Washington Times article points out, that is not as likely as it probably ought to be.

If it weren't for the fact that Democratic leaders are in favor of American defeat in Iraq and total appeasement of Iran (as opposed to the Bush administration's partial appeasement), I would be in favor of a big Republican loss. And if we do actually manage to topple the Iranian regime before November, I will be quite comfortable advocating a Republican catastrophe at the polls.
I don't think "protest votes" usually have much effect, and I definitely don't support the idea of backing the worst candidate in the perverse hope that making things worse might make them better. But I think a Republican shellacking this year would have a positive effect for one reason: the Republicans would actually learn the right lesson—that they are being punished for supporting big government.

A less drastic solution—and one that is actually beginning to happen—is described below: a grass-roots revolt within the Republican Party by small-government advocates such as the author below, who defeated the incumbent leader of the Pennsylvania State Senate in the Republican primaries.

"Contract with Pennsylvania," Mike Folmer, Wall Street Journal, June 1 The Republican primary of 2006 in this state has been called a "political massacre," an "earthquake" and "payback." It has been discussed in media outlets across the country and across the political spectrum. Now, more than two weeks have elapsed since May 16, and pundits, editorial writers and political analysts are still trying to figure out what led to the defeat of 16 incumbent state legislators—including Pennsylvania's top two state Senate Republicans—at the hands of underfunded, and in several cases—including mine—unknown challengers….

Conservatives had long been chafing at the fact that an ostensibly conservative Legislature had linked arms with [Governor] Rendell to raise income taxes, push up state spending to record levels, and expand both corporate- and social-welfare spending without any apparent means of accountability—while a comprehensive property tax reform package continued to stall in the Legislature….

It was as if the Republican Party leadership in the state capitol had forgotten everything they'd been taught by Ronald Reagan—that the core values of the Republican Party were lower taxes, less spending, and limited government….

[T]he most important factor was that ideas matter. I have confidence that the Pennsylvania Republican Party can move forward victoriously not only this coming fall but in future elections. Yet in order to do so, it is imperative that we do not forget the principles that made the Republican Party great.

In many ways, then, the Pennsylvania situation mirrors that of the country as a whole.

3. The People Does Not Know What It Wills The only thing muddling the revolt of the small-government conservatives is the issue on which many conservatives strongly favor increased governmental restrictions and private enterprise: immigration. But here, the Republican Party is badly divided, as is the rest of the nation.

As George Will points out in this column below, the legislative mess of irreconcilable congressional proposals on immigration accurately reflects the intellectual confusion on the issue among the people as a whole—a confusion that arises on any issue where our political leaders abandon the basic, clarifying principle of individual rights.

"Between a Rock and 'Reform'," George Will, Washington Post, June 1 As members of the House and Senate head for a conference to try to reconcile the stark and probably irreconcilable differences incorporated in their two immigration bills, Republicans are between a rock and a hard place. And another rock. And another.

First, if the conferees agree to anything like the Senate bill, the House will reject it—if it comes to a vote. Speaker Dennis Hastert has a "majority of the majority" rule: Nothing comes to the floor that does not have the support of a majority of Republicans. Probably 75 percent of House Republicans—including Sensenbrenner, who will probably be the lead House negotiator—oppose the two pillars of the Senate bill, a guest-worker program and a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants already here….

Second, if the conference agrees to anything like the House "enforcement first and, for now, only" bill, it will be rejected or filibustered to death in the Senate…..

Third, if any legislation is passed that contains any provision that can be stigmatized as "amnesty," come November some of the Republican base, which is already boiling, will emigrate from the political process by not voting.

Fourth, if no immigration legislation is enacted, voters of various stripes may say, as voters said of congressional Democrats who were in disarray over a crime bill in the summer of 1994, that these people cannot govern and should be given, like unruly 8-year-olds, a timeout. The timeout is now in its 12th year.

But if Congress fails to pass immigration reform, that will not really deserve to be called a failure, for two reasons. First, the moment may not be ripe for reform, because the country is of two minds—actually, more than two—about the issue.

4. Surprising Surprise I was surprised by people's surprise at the 1995 case of Lori Berenson, an American girl raised by leftist "humanitarians" who was convicted for aiding a Communist terrorist group in Peru. After a century of leftist "humanitarians" who committed Communist atrocities, why was their anything to be surprised about?

I have a similar reaction to the story below, about a young woman raised in a multi-million dollar home in upscale Westchester County, New York, and who has now pled guilty to involvement in an eco-terrorist plot to blow up government buildings. People are surprised that a well-off "hippie" girl would turn to planting bombs. But isn't that the exact profile and progression of the hippie movement of the 1960s?

More to the point, the hippie philosophy that civilization is evil while irrationalism is "romantic" leads inevitably to the view that it is heroic to spread mayhem and anarchy in the cause of environmentalism.

"Radical Turn to Terror," Stefanie Cohen, Douglas Montero, and Lukas I. Alpert, New York Post, June 1 Reared in Westchester's culture of plenty, Lauren Weiner shunned the perks of wealth for the life of a left-wing radical—calling herself "Fireflie" and hitchhiking and train-hopping around the country in search of a "beautiful romantic culture."…

In detailed writings posted on the Internet, Weiner, 20, stated she's "anti-society" and spent her time rubbing elbows with fellow "radicals, runners, and romantics," and clashing with police at anti-corporate protests….

That journey led her to join a plan formulated by a hardened environmental extremist, Eric Taylor McDavid, 28, to turn the anarchic protests more violent, California prosecutors said. McDavid, Weiner, and a third radical, Zachary Jenson, 20, planned to meet in California after Christmas to bomb a US Forest Service genetics lab, a fish hatchery, the Nimbus Dam and other sites near Sacramento, according to testimony from a confidential federal informant and wire-tapped conversations from a house the three rented….

The informant told authorities that the three said that human casualties in the bombings "would be acceptable," according to a criminal complaint….

"She was a hippie-type," said a girl who went to school with Weiner at Fox Lane HS in Bedford. "I never really thought she would conspire to blow up anything. It's so weird."

5. Despotism Update The good news about the contemporary state of the world is that far less of the world is controlled by dictatorships than 20 years ago, before the fall of the Berlin Wall. And many of the remaining dictatorships are either greatly reduced in size and power (Russia) or are backward, impoverished, relatively unimportant backwaters (Zimbabwe). But it is still useful to keep an eye on them, so here is a little despotism update.

Zimbabwe did not start out as an impoverished backwater; it used to be the breadbasket of Africa. But then dictator Robert Mugabe began seizing productive white-owned farms, inducing a famine. And now that he is done destroying the white-owned farms, he has now begun seizing black-owned farms as a way of punishing his political opponents.

For the same reason, the man once hailed by the international left as a humanitarian liberator has also bulldozed a black shanty-town, pushing its impoverished and defenseless residents onto the streets.

Meanwhile, Hugo Chavez's one reliable ally in South America, Evo Morales, is toying with Mugabe-style "land reform" in Bolivia, leading land-owners to arm themselves for self-defense, pushing Bolivia toward a possible civil war.

While Chavez and Morales try to resurrect Communism in Latin America, the one-time base for international Communism, Russia, continues its slide back toward dictatorship, including the resurrection of the Soviet practice of committing dissidents to lunatic asylums.
to dictatorship threatens to make it weaker still, stalling out Russia's recent economic growth by scaring off foreign capital. That is especially true now that Russia has blacklisted a major British-American investment manager in order to protect corrupt politically connected Russian businessmen.

"Staring into Russia's Soul," Patrice Hill, Washington Times, May 31 The United States and Britain are concerned that Russia has banned a top Western businessman who was waging a war on corruption and crime in the country's boardrooms, and are considering raising the issue with President Vladimir Putin at the Group of Eight meeting in July.

William F. Browder, the chief executive of Hermitage Capital Management Ltd., the largest fund for Western investors in Russia with $4 billion in assets, was declared "persona non grata" and barred from the country in November. Russian security forces said he was a "security risk."

Mr. Browder thinks the security forces are aligned with corrupt corporate executives he is fighting. He has appealed to Mr. Putin to restore his access to the country….

Anything perceived as a broad assault on Western investors in Russia eventually would rebound on Mr. Putin and create economic difficulties for the country, which is experiencing an economic boom from a flood of revenue brought in by its lucrative oil and gas exports….

"He's letting the inmates take over the asylum," Mr. Browder said. "But if he tries to keep out the largest foreign investor, what's everyone else going to think? If they can arbitrarily lock out a person who spent 10 years of his life and provided $4 billion in investment, they could do this to anybody."

6. Europe's Suicide The EU-3's position as the loudest voice demanding American appeasement of Iran is just a symptom of Western Europe's slow economic and cultural slide toward suicide. Other symptoms are the latest round of Muslim riots in France.

Most shocking of all, however, is Holland's decision, under the influence of environmentalism, to breach its own dikes. It is an act of destruction which, as one displaced farmer points out, was considered an act of war in previous centuries, and it powerfully symbolizes Western Europe's apparent desire to erase itself.

In the article below, Victor Davis Hanson explores more of the symptoms of the European suicide cult and gives some of the reasons. But in describing anti-individualism as a "good intention" that led to "unintended consequences," he misses the real story.

Having missed the real story, he focuses on the non-essential issue of demographics, advocating that Europeans preserve themselves through the physicalistic process of breeding, when their underlying crisis is clearly moral and intellectual, not biological and demographic.

"In Europe, Instead of Utopia, Unintended Consequences Ensue," Victor Davis Hanson, Jewish World Review, June 1 The enemies of Europe's past—responsible for everything from Verdun and Dresden to a constant threat of mutually assured destruction—were identified as nationalism and militarism. Meanwhile, at home, Europeans cited cutthroat competition and unbridled individualism as additional contributory causes of the prior strife and unhappiness.

So in response to the errors of the past, Europeans systematically expanded the welfare state. They welcomed in immigrants. Politicians slashed defense spending, lowered the retirement age and cut the workweek. Voters demanded trade barriers to protect the public from the ravages of globalization. Either to enjoy the good life or to save the planet, couples forswore children.

But instead of utopia, unintended consequences ensued. Unemployment soared. Dismal economic growth, shrinking populations and a scarier world outside their borders followed….
Some brave soul soon is going to have to inform the European public: Work much harder and longer for less money; defend the continent on your own; move out of mama's house and start changing diapers—and from now on expect far less from the state.

Who knows what the reaction will be to that splash of cold water? In response, what European populist will soon appear on the streets in Rome, Berlin or Madrid once again to deceive the public that it was someone else who caused these disappointments?

We in America should take note of the looming end of this once seemingly endless summer. We've been there, done that with this beloved continent all too many times before.

7. Things of Beauty
For those of you who found yesterday's summer heat too much in Leighton's "Flaming June," today I offer you a respite from the heat in a photograph that is as cooling as an Italian gelato shop. This photograph was taken in Poland in January. Notice how the photographer achieves the frosty effect in this scene.

First, we can’t actually see the sunshine, though we can tell it is fairly low in the sky. The sun provides a warm and gentle glow to the right side of the image and lights up the icy pier posts with a gentle pink light. Notice also that by using a slow exposure, the photographer has smoothed the Baltic Sea into a soft fog of pale icy gray. With no texture on the sea, our eyes are brought to focus on the sentinels marching into the distance. The ice buildup shows us that each crashing wave has added a bit of thickness and a few more dripping edges to these fantastical ice sculptures. And to top it off, a coating of frosty snow has powdered everything but the water in pale bluish and purple hues.

The delicate pink hues of the sky and the texture of the frosted piers create a cooling effect like cups of pale sorbet or gelato.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Leading News Stories From Oceania on June 1, 2006

Classified Files stolen from the Ministry of Truth by Winston Smith, Outer Party member.

Condi's Gambit Condoleezza Rice takes the risk that appeasing the Europeans "one last time" will get them to stop appeasing Iran. But when have the Europeans ever run out of further excuses for appeasement?

Top News Stories

Condi's Gambit
Iran's Gambit
Iran and the "Oil Weapon"
The Real War for Iraq Begins
The Real Immigration Question
Capitalism Versus Socialism at Ground Zero

1. Condi's Gambit The "EU-3" negotiations have never been negotiations between Europe and Iran; they have always been, at root, negotiations between the United States and Europe. The US has been trying to convince the Europeans to back economic sanctions and possible air strikes against Iran—while the Europeans have been trying to convince us to join them in lapsing back into appeasement and passivity.

That is the context for Condoleezza Rice's new gambit in those negotiations. The US will agree to join the negotiations with Iran—not to take up new one-on-one negotiations with Iran, as Iran has proposed, but to join the existing negotiations—if Iran meets a set of conditions that Rice clearly does not expect Iran to meet, based on its past behavior in these negotiations.

The idea is to eliminate Europe's "last excuse" for refusing to take action against Iran. That may work, but she is taking an awful risk—because appeasers never run out of excuses. In granting that maybe the US should make just one more concession, she may allow the EU-3 to come back and say that maybe another concession after this would do the trick, then one more—and so on, until Iran has the bomb.

"Condoleezza Rice Holds News Conference on Iran," Washington Post, May 31 Working with our international partners, the United States is making every effort to achieve a successful diplomatic outcome. But the international community has made clear that Iran must not acquire nuclear weapons.

The vital interests of the United States, of our friends and allies in the region, and of the entire international community are at risk, and the United States will act accordingly to protect those common interests….

The Iranian government's choices are clear. The negative choice is for the regime to maintain its current course, pursuing nuclear weapons in defiance of the international community and its international obligations.

If the regime does so, it will incur only great costs. We and our European partners agree that path will lead to international isolation and progressively stronger political and economic sanctions.

The positive and constructive choice is for the Iranian regime to alter its present course and cooperate in resolving the nuclear issue, beginning by immediately resuming suspension of all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities, as well as full cooperation with the IAEA and returning to implementation of the additional protocol which would provide greater access for the IAEA….

President Bush has consistently emphasized that the United States is committed to a diplomatic solution to the nuclear challenge posed by the Iranian regime….

Thus, to underscore our commitment to a diplomatic solution and to enhance the prospects for success, as soon as Iran fully and verifiably suspends its enrichment and reprocessing activities, the United States will come to the table with our EU colleagues….

The nuclear issue, though, is not the only obstacle standing in the way of improved relations.
The Iranian government supports terror. It is involved in violence in Iraq. And it is undercutting the restoration of full sovereignty in Lebanon under UN Security Council Resolution 1559….

If the Iranian regime believes that it will benefit from the possession of nuclear weapons, it is mistaken. The United States will be steadfast in defense of our forces and steadfast in defense of our friends and allies who wish to work together for common security….

I think the last year and half or so—year or so—as really been about creating a climate of opinion about what is demanded of Iran. That we have done.

And now we hope that this offer, this proposal that we would join the talks should Iran suspend, will help to create a climate for action, either in the negotiations or in the Security Council….
This is the last excuse, in some sense. There have been those who have said, "Well, if only the negotiations had the potential for the United States to be a part of them, perhaps then Iran would respond."

So now we have a pretty clear path. We have negotiations if Iran is prepared to suspend. If Iran is not prepared to suspend…there is another path.

2. Iran's Gambit Below, Amir Taheri describes the result of the Europeans' strategy (which the Bush administration has so far gone along with) of granting one more concession to Iran, then just one more, then just one more: Iran has become progressively more intransigent, confirmed in the belief that it has only to hold its ground to get everything it wants.
That explains, for example, why Iran is now moving forward with research into nuclear fusion.
As this Reuters report notes, this is "a type of atomic reaction which has yet to be developed for commercial power generation"—but which is used for building more powerful atomic bombs.
Incidentally, in a passage not excerpted below, Taheri also does a good job of puncturing the conventional wisdom about JFK's handling of the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, which was not a victory for the US but rather a victory for Castro, Kruschev, and the Soviets.

"Religious Fanatic at a Persian Bazaar," Amir Taheri, Jerusalem Post, May 27 What could be the logic behind Ahmadinejad's "preemptive diplomacy"? One answer is that the Islamic leader may be inspired by practices in Persian bazaars that are based on the assumption that whatever offer is made in any bargain is suspect because it may be a trick to avoid an even better offer.
Reviewing the events of the past year or so Ahmadinejad cannot but observe that by sticking to his guns he has received better and better offers across the line. The Europeans are offering him what they were not even prepared to consider in negotiations with his predecessor president Muhammad Khatami. Hassan Ruhani, the mullah who handled the negotiations with the EU under Khatami, says that he would have been in seventh heaven had the Europeans offered him what they now offer Ahmadinejad.

As for "security guarantees," Ahmadinejad knows that successive US administrations refused to consider them as advance payment for normalization of relations with the Islamic Republic. Now that so many prominent American personalities are prepared to promote the idea, shouldn't Ahmadinejad wonder whether he could secure even more concessions?...

The real problem with the Islamic Republic now is that Ahmadinejad, unlike his predecessors, is convinced that, backed by the "Hidden Imam," he can win across the line without making any concessions. The chorus of appeasers in Europe and the US confirm him in his dangerous belief. The message that Ahmadinejad can get more and more by offering less and less has already crushed the realists in Teheran who know that his policy of persistent provocation could lead to war. The more one tries to appease Ahmadinejad, the less he will be appeased.

3. Iran and the "Oil Weapon" One of Iran's big threats against the US is its ability to hold back its oil production, which would cause a sharp increase in our gasoline prices. Ironically, however, the "oil weapon" is a greater threat to Iran than it is to the US, especially since Iran has very little refinery capacity and has to import most of its gasoline—which is already becoming so expensive that it is wrecking Iran's finances.

The article below can be read at the Financial Times site, but a free registration is required. It is also available without registration at the RegimeChangeIran blog, which I have linked to below.

"Iran 'Will Need $5bn Subsidy' to Avoid Petrol Rationing," Gareth Smyth, Financial Times via RegimeChangeIran, May 28 A leading Iranian parliamentarian on Sunday warned President Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad he would need to spend an extra 5bn Dollars this year to pay for subsidies on sales to motorists of imported petrol and diesel to avoid politically sensitive rationing.

Kamal Daneshyar, head of the parliament's energy commission, told Reuters the government needed to withdraw the money from the Oil Stabilisation Fund (OSF), which collects windfall oil revenue for contingencies and investment….

But the allocation of OSF funds to maintain subsidies would fly in the face of Mr Ahmadi-Nejad's promises to maximise spending on capital projects, especially in Iran's regions….

Despite having the world's second-largest proven crude oil reserves, Iran imports around 40 per cent of its petrol. So while rising global oil prices boost Iranian coffers and are celebrated by Mr Ahmadi-Nejad, the subsequent rise in imported petrol prices has become a domestic issue.

4. The Real War for Iraq Begins The real war in Iraq is not against Sunni insurgents in Western Iraq; it's against the Shiite militias in Southern Iraq, who are the most dangerous because they are armed by Iran and supported by their political sympathizers in Iraq's government. So it is good that Iraq's new prime minister has launched a campaign to suppress militias with an "iron fist" in Basra, the Southern city where they hold the most power.

The question is whether Prime Minister al-Maliki actually has the power to make good on this promise, since the militias' political backers have so far prevented his government from appointing ministers for the departments of Defense and Interior—and since the crackdown is supposed to be carried out by Iraq's "security forces," which includes local police who have been predominantly infiltrated by the militias.

"Iraq Premier Vows 'Iron Fist' for Basra Insurgents," AP via New York Times, May 31 Iraq's new prime minister declared a state of emergency Wednesday in the southern city of Basra, vowing to crack down with an ''iron fist'' on rival gangs battling each other for power….

Violence has been escalating in Shiite-dominated Basra, with a wave of kidnappings and the slayings of nearly 140 people—mostly Sunnis but also Shiites and police—in May alone, police said. The tension has been brewing largely due to the growing influence of anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and his Mahdi Army, and the armed Badr organization, both Shiite groups….

"We shall use an iron fist against the leaders of the gangs or those who threaten security," he said earlier in a speech, apparently referring to the militias as well as rival tribal groups. "And we shall ask all security departments to draw up an effective and quick plan to achieve security….

The Badr Organization for Reconstruction and Development maintains it no longer is a militia but is still armed. The group is linked to Iraq's biggest Shiite party, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq—senior partner in the Shiite coalition that won the biggest number of parliament seats.

Badr is also widely believed to have links to Iranian intelligence. Badr veterans are believed represented in ranks of the Interior Ministry special commando forces that have been alleged to take part in the abuse of Sunni prisoners.

Al-Maliki, meanwhile, still has not persuaded Iraq's ethnic, sectarian, and secular factions to agree on new defense and interior ministers, leaving the key security posts vacant more than a week after his national unity government took office.

5. The Real Immigration Question The recent immigration debate is largely framed in terms of non-essentials. It's framed in terms of "legality"—illegal immigrants are bad because they "broke the law," regardless of whether that law was just or rational. Or it's framed in terms of welfare, as if the most significant thing about immigrants is that they might mooch off of the American welfare state (which, as I and others have argued, is unjust to the vast majority of immigrants who come here to work). And so on.

But the basic questions to be asked are: is immigration, per se, good for America—and do we have a moral right to stop it? Is it good to have more workers coming here to pursue "the American dream"—and do native-born Americans have any inherent right to use government coercion to engage in protectionism for "our" jobs? My answer is "yes" to the first and "no" to the second.

Once those basic questions are answered—once we decide that immigration is good and we reject any collectivist rationale for stopping it—it becomes clear that all of the other issues now being debated are non-essential details. Are you concerned that immigrants are "breaking the law"? Then make immigration legal. Are you concerned that border smugglers trample private lands and might help terrorists or criminals to enter? Then allow immigration at legal, monitored border crossings.

Are you concerned that immigrants will collect welfare checks? Then propose legislation to deprive them of benefits—or, better yet, work to end welfare and entitlements altogether. Are you concerned that immigrants won't "assimilate"? Then fight political correctness.

You may notice that conservatives focus relentlessly on all of these secondary issues—as a way to avoid defending their stands on the fundamental issues. They have what I have reluctantly come to conclude is an unquestioned emotional-level bias against immigration—backed by their acceptance of the collectivist premise of the native-born worker's "right to a job."

Washington Post columnist Robert Samuelson is an immigration restrictionist. (He opposes immigration, in essence, because impoverished new immigrants drag down America's aggregate per-capita income statistics.) But he is at least honest in framing the issue: the Senate bill will greatly expand the number of legal immigrants—and the debate should be about whether that is a good thing.

"What You Don't Know About the Immigration Bill," Robert Samuelson, Washington Post, May 31 The Senate passed legislation last week that Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) hailed as "the most far-reaching immigration reform in our history." You might think that the first question anyone would ask is how much it would actually increase or decrease legal immigration. But no. After the Senate approved the bill by 62 to 36, you could not find the answer in the news columns of The Post, the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal. Yet the estimates do exist and are fairly startling. By rough projections, the Senate bill would double the legal immigration that would occur during the next two decades from about 20 million (under present law) to about 40 million….

If the large immigration projections had been in the news, would the Senate have done what it did? Possibly, though I doubt it.

But if it had, senators would have had to defend what they were doing as sound public policy. That's the real point. They would have had to debate whether such high levels of immigration are good or bad for the country rather than adopting a measure whose largest consequences are unintended or not understood.

6. Capitalism Versus Socialism at Ground Zero I haven't written much about the endless political wrangling and delays of the rebuilding at the World Trade Center site in New York City, partly because it would take an expert political pathologist to follow the Byzantine curlicues of this political struggle, and partly because, as a result, there has been no actual rebuilding to report on.

Fortunately, along comes Deroy Murdock with an excellent summary of this story, and a brilliant overall explanation of its meaning: the building boom in the rest of Manhattan—including just across the street from the World Trade Center site—contrasts to "Pataki's Pit" in the same way that capitalist West Berlin contrasted to communist East Berlin. It is a laboratory of free enterprise versus government control.

"Capitalism v. Socialism on Vesey Street," Deroy Murdock, National Review Online, May 31 Not since I peered over the Berlin Wall from West to East in 1987 has the contrast between capitalism and socialism been as stark as it was last week in Manhattan.

On the north side of Vesey Street, real-estate developer Larry Silverstein led the joyous, May 23 grand opening of 7 World Trade Center—a sleek, sparkling, 52-story high-rise that replaces its namesake predecessor. That building collapsed in flames at 5:20 P.M. on September 11, 2001.

On Vesey’s south side, Ground Zero remains a grim, gaping cavity where the Twin Towers proudly stood until al Qaeda agents demolished them with passenger-filled missiles.

Four years and eight months after Islamo-fascists disfigured this country, Silverstein, a private entrepreneur, delivered a skyscraper that elegantly says, "The barbarians crashed the gates, but we repelled them, with our beauty and prowess intact."

Yards away, a tangle of politicians and bureaucrats—dizzyingly misdirected by New York’s blundering GOP governor, George Pataki—has stalled, squabbled, and spun in circles. The distinction is staggering: Above, a palace of commerce; below, a canyon of tears….

As Silverstein said March 15: "I am a builder. That is all I want to do. And when the Port Authority has not stood in the way, that is exactly what I have done—without any delay."

7. Things of Beauty

Lord Frederick Leighton (1830-1896), oil on canvas, c.1895

Yesterday I wrote about the cooling effect of the dappled sunshine on a woodland path during the glaring summer sun. For the more astute readers among us, you will already have noticed my preference for cool and shady places. Rob in fact, calls me his shade-loving plant. You see, it isn't merely that I grew up in a northern climate or that I am light-skinned and burn easily in direct sunshine. It is more that I tend to wilt in the hot summer sun—as Leighton's girl, Flaming June, does in this painting.

This is perhaps Leighton’s most famous painting. It is often reproduced in garish colors in poorly done reproduction posters. But if you look around carefully, you can fine good-quality reproductions of this painting. For most people, I think it is the glowing orange hue and the languid pose of June that most interests them. And you have to admit that she beautifully captures that feeling of wanting to curl up and take a quick catnap in response to the summer heat. But for me, what I love most about this painting is the quality of the light and the texture of her hair and dress.

The painting is called "Flaming June," which instantly gives us the impression of a hot summer day. Her pose and the colors used in this painting only add to that effect. But let's look a bit closer to discover what other elements of this painting help create the sense of a hot and humid afternoon. First, notice the glare of the sunshine off the water in the background. This detail sets the context for us—we can witness the glowing heat of the sun reflected off of the water.

When looking at June, notice what you do and don't notice about her. Your eyes are drawn to detail, so we see the notice the elaborate folds of her drapery and even of her hair. But have you ever noticed that we see more detail in her arms than we do in her face? Have you ever noticed that her face is actually painted in a slightly blurry manner, as if Leighton was not quite finished working on that part of this painting? But clearly he had completed this detail. So why is her face noticeably less detailed than the rest of her? I think it is because he wanted her face to be less noticeable.

We are so used to looking at and noticing human faces that our eyes are almost always drawn to faces first. But in this case June is sleeping, and it isn't her face that Leighton wants us to notice. What we notice instead is the repeated texture of her lavishly long golden red locks, her glowing orange dress, and the burgundy cloth she sleeps on. All three of these elements, painted in radiant warm hues, have the texture and shape of something that is flowing and moving, in strong contrast to the pose of drowsy June. These ripples of cloth and hair, combined with the glowing, hot colors, look very much like dancing flames.

Leighton uses nearly everything at his disposal as a painter to create the sense of a hot and humid day. The glaring sunshine off the distant water, the flushed sleeping girl, the hot summer colors that glow like embers, and even the texture of flames. Each element recalls our memories of hot summer days and effectively works to create that emotional sense in the viewer.