OpinionJournal – Best of the Web Today – September 26, 2007

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Taranto is clueless that his commentary (easy to spot the idiots) applies perfectly to himself.

Best of the Web Today – September 26, 2007

    By JAMES TARANTO

    Today’s Video on WSJ.com: James Taranto on Ahmadinejad at Columbia: “It’s one of the advantages of free speech. It makes it easier to spot the idiots.”

    The Ethicist–II
    Monroe Freedman, a Hofstra University law professor, responds on his Legal Ethics Forum blog to our item yesterday about Hofstra’s selection of Lynne Stewart, the disbarred lawyer convicted of giving material aid to terrorists, to speak at an “ethics” conference:

    There was a nasty comment on a WSJ blog about the fact that we have invited Lynne Stewart to be a speaker at our upcoming Ethics conference Oct. 14-16. (Please let me know if you want a brochure.) That has produced several letters to the Dean, ranging from angry to strident. Here is my reaction. Comments appreciated.

    Ms. Stewart is not being invited to teach trial advocacy or legal ethics. Implicit in lawyering at the edge is the risk of going over the edge, both ethically and legally. Like every speaker at our highly successful conferences, Stewart will speak for twenty minutes and then be subjected to sharp questioning for an equal twenty minutes. Students are more likely, therefore, to come away viewing her not as a role model, but as a cautionary lesson. That’s effective education in lawyers’ ethics, which is too often considered a dry, uninteresting, and unimportant subject.

    Freedman doesn’t include a link so that his readers can see what we said. But his commenter “Bartleby” has him dead to rights:

    If she’s being brought in as a cautionary example, why is there no indication of this, her criminal conviction, or her disbarment in the promotional materials for the conference?

    Or, for that matter, in this Freedman post. Indeed, as we noted yesterday, not only are her conviction and disbarment not mentioned, but she is described as a “human rights” attorney. We hope that Freedman does subject Stewart to harsh scrutiny, as Lee Bolllinger did the other day to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. But as in the Bollinger case, we doubt that this was why he invited her to begin with.

    He’s America’s Enemy, Too
    Ed Koch makes an excellent point about Columbia president Lee Bollinger’s “dialogue” with Iran’s titular president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad:

    I am . . . distressed that the heart of Bollinger’s objections related to Israel and Ahmadinejad’s call for its destruction. Of course, that is important, especially to Jews and certainly to me, and to the world as well. But I would have preferred a question on Ahmadinejad’s call for the destruction of the United States. Bollinger could have said, “with respect to the U.S., shortly after your election in October 2005, you called for a global jihad aimed at destroying the U.S., saying ‘Is it possible for us to witness a world without America and Zionism?’ You went on to say, ‘You should know that this slogan can certainly be achieved.’ ” Bollinger, a Jew himself, gave Ahmadinejad ammunition to be used among Islamic supporters that the battle at Columbia was primarily a battle between Islam and the Jews, and Ahmadinejad had bravely stood up to the mocking of the Jewish Bollinger.

    This implicates not just “Islamic supporters” and the battle “at Columbia.” Consider this report by the Associated Press’s Anne Flaherty:

    Congress signaled its disapproval of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad with a vote Tuesday to tighten sanctions against his government and a call to designate his army a terrorist group.

    The swift rebuke was a rare display of bipartisan cooperation in a Congress bitterly divided on the Iraq war. It reflected lawmakers’ long-standing nervousness about Tehran’s intentions in the region, particularly toward Israel–a sentiment fueled by the pro-Israeli lobby whose influence reaches across party lines in Congress.

    Has the Associated Press adopted a policy of regarding the arguably anti-Semitic and indisputably controversial anti-Israel views of Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer as factual?

    It is true enough that Iran poses a more immediate threat to Israel than to the U.S. But the effort to marginalize concern about Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons as the narrow worry of the “pro-Israeli lobby” is troubling on several levels.

    Even putting aside humanitarian considerations, does anyone seriously believe that it would serve U.S. interests, or indeed that it would not be anything less than a devastating blow against them, if a hostile and fanatical power succeeded in incinerating an American ally?

    Even putting aside Israel, does anyone seriously believe that possession of nuclear weapons would not make Iran a bigger threat to U.S. interests in the region, or that an arms race between Iran and Arab states serve America’s interests?

    And returning to humanitarian considerations, what does it tell us about America’s political, intellectual and journalistic culture that some would dismiss the threat of a new Holocaust as the narrow concern of a political pressure group?

    ‘Multicultural’ Ethnocentrism
    Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s comment that “in Iran, we don’t have homosexuals like in your country” was widely mocked, including in this column. Reader Dan Balaloski has a different take:

    There is one thing being lost in the discussion of the Ahmadinejad gay comments at Columbia.

    People in the Eastern countries aren’t as coarse and open about sexuality as in the West (think: traditional Catholic upbringing). People in the East simply don’t go around wearing their sexuality on their sleeve like Pat Robertson wears his religion, and most certainly these sorts of things are not part of the normal discourse in a country like Iran. These things are generally considered private and not openly discussed in polite company.

    Although Ahmadinejad certainly must know there are gay people in his country, rather than ascribing nefarious motives to his answer, I think it was more likely that he was being merely courtly and polite to his audience. In truth, looking at this through the prism of Eastern culture, I think he was really being a gentleman.

    My own parents are Orthodox Christians from Macedonia. When my brother and I were in college and such oddities of life in America were entering our brain and our vocabulary, my mother also once stated to us that, “Our people aren’t like that.” No, my mother isn’t a fascist–in fact, she is quite the opposite. It’s just a different culture.

    It must be said that Ahmadinejad’s answer was evasive: He was asked a question about the Iranian regime’s practice of executing people for homosexual conduct, and he did not address it. But it may well be that when he said “we don’t have homosexuals like in your country,” what he meant was that in Iran open homosexuality is not tolerated, much less accepted as it is to a significant degree in America.

    In this Iran is not unusual, as a search for “homosexuality” on the Human Rights Watch Web site will show. Even in the West, acceptance of homosexuality is far from universal; it’s not hard to imagine a small-town American saying, “Where I come from, we don’t have homosexuals like in New York.” And even among urban Western elites, general acceptance of the gay subculture is a phenomenon of only the past few decades.

    Savor the irony: The left prides itself on its purported respect for other cultures. But what turned the “multicultural” left against Ahmadinejad was his rejection of an attitude that is unique to contemporary Western culture.

    Time to Move On?
    On Monday, noting that the American Conservative Union had filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission over MoveOn.org’s ad discount from the New York Times, we noted that “it wouldn’t surprise us if some liberal group decided to do the same over the Giuliani ad.” That very day, it turns out, a liberal blogger did essentially that, as today’s Times reports. But it does not appear that he has a case:

    Lane Hudson, a liberal blogger . . ., filed a complaint Monday saying the Giuliani campaign should pay The Times an additional $77,000 for its advertisement; otherwise it would be accepting an illegal corporate contribution that was over the legal limit.

    A spokesman for the Giuliani campaign said that it would not pay the difference because The Times did not guarantee when it would run the advertisement. “Our ad not only met the acceptability standards of The New York Times, but it was placed at the standby rate with no commitment it would run on a specific date,” the spokesman said.

    [Catherine] Mathis, The Times spokeswoman, confirmed that the newspaper did not commit to a specific date.

    Curiously, Hudson’s complaint mentions only Giuliani, not the Times, which would have to have made an illegal contribution in order for Giuliani to receive it. In a later post, Hudson argues that Giuliani did get the same deal MoveOn did:

    Check it out here. In Rudy’s own words, he DEMANDS that his ad run in that Friday’s New York Times at the SAME rate he had already criticized MoveOn for receiving. He sounds like an angry little kid demanding an equal share of a piece of chocolate, NOT a Presidential candidate.

    But the issue here isn’t what he SOUNDS like or even whether he GOT what he DEMANDED. It’s whether the Times GUARANTEED him the placement in advance without charging him its usual premium for such a warrant.

    The Times piece also contains this hilarious quote about the MoveOn ad:

    Asked if the sales representative was sympathetic to MoveOn or was unaware of the pricing policy, Ms. Mathis said: “The salesperson did not see the content of the ad at the time the rate was quoted. There was no bias.”

    As blogger Tom Maguire quips: “No bias! Because the sales rep had no idea at all which side of the issue MoveOn was taking!”

    A Wide Stance

  • “Let me be clear: I am not gay. I never have been gay. Still, without a shred of truth or evidence to the contrary, the Statesman has engaged in this witch hunt.”–Larry Craig, Aug. 28
  • “MoveOn is not a far-left, anti-war, fringe organization. . . . MoveOn’s eager and patriotic organizers are bringing America’s most urgent problems to light and telling it like it is. I applaud them, even if some toes get stepped on.”–Gwynne Chesher of Wellington, Fla., South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale), Sept. 25

Tell Him About the 22nd Amendment
“What to Do With Bush on the 2008 Campaign Trail?”–headline, Reuters, Sept. 26

He Must’ve Been Teased a Lot as a Kid
“Presiding Judge Named for Local Superior Court”–headline, San Diego Union-Tribune, Sept. 22

Blame ‘Em? Heck, Let’s Swat ‘Em!
“Blame Flies as City Sues Sonics”–headline, Seattle Times, Sept. 25

‘Where Can I Find a Woman Like That?’
“Labor Questions Dog Springfield”–headline, WHIO-AM/FM Web site (Dayton, Ohio), second item, Sept. 26

And After All the Work We’ve Done to Perfect It!
“La Nina Threatens to Wreck World’s Weather”–headline, Times (London), Sept. 24

The Dangers of Secondhand Smoke
“Amputated Leg Found in Second-Hand Smoker”–headline, Rocky Mountain News (Denver), Sept. 26

No One Was in the Forest to Hear Them
“Plants Fall Silent”–headline, Saginaw (Mich.) News, Sept. 25

So Order Couscous Instead!
“House Panel Says Rice Is Hindering Its Work”–headline, Washington Post, Sept. 26

To 200%?
“Too Much, Too Little Sleep Doubles Risk of Death, Study Finds”–headline, FoxNews.com, Sept. 25

Breaking News From 1745
“Judge Tosses Hit-and-Run Charge vs. Bach”–headline, Associated Press, Sept. 25

You Don’t Say
“Fans to Pay Silent Homage at Paris Funeral of Marcel Marceau”–headline, Jerusalem Post, Sept. 26

News You Can Use

  • “Deep-Voiced Men Make More Babies: Study”–headline, Agence France-Presse, Sept. 25
  • “Dead? You Still Have to Pay Your Fines at This NY Library”–headline, Press & Sun-Bulletin (Binghamton, N.Y.), Sept. 26

Bottom Stories of the Day

  • “Work on U.S. 78 Won’t Affect Traffic”–headline, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Sept. 26
  • “Elizabetth Edwards Stops by Local GM Plant”–headline, WOOD-TV Web site (Grand Rapids, Mich.), Sept. 25
  • “Most Voters Back Free Tuition: Student-Led Poll”–headline, CBC.ca, Sept. 25
  • “Nepal Considers Nudity Ban on Everest”–headline, Associated Press, Sept. 26
  • “Dick Cheney Spotted Book Shopping in D.C.”–headline, FoxNews.com, Sept. 26
  • “Strike Starts to Affect Canadian Workers”–headline, WZZM-TV Web site (Grand Rapids, Mich.), Sept. 25

Guess Who’s Not Coming to Dinner?
We don’t know who the wise guy is that signed us up (under the name “Karl”) for Chris Dodd’s campaign emails, but if you are he, thanks. It’s definitely good for some laughs. (Likewise for those who’ve signed us up for the Edwards and Obama lists. Won’t somebody please get us on Mrs. Clinton’s list?)

Anyway, we got a kick out of today’s Dodd email, signed by one Tim Tagaris:

We’ve received a few inquiries in the past week wondering when Chris Dodd is going to invite the email list out for a meal.

Hillary’s done it. Barack’s done it. John Edwards taught his email list how to make a pecan pie. The press following the internet in the 2008 election really wants to know–what are we gonna do to feed you?

The short answer is, Chris Dodd would prefer to lead with you–not eat with you.

Tagaris goes on to describe Dodd’s heroic yet futile efforts to give alien enemy combatants even greater access to American courts and to ensure defeat in Iraq, as well as his heroic and successful effort to pass the Family and Medical Leave Act, although he doesn’t mention that that was 14 years ago.

But anyway, how hilarious is it that Dodd is reduced to making a gimmick of his refusal to adopt the gimmick of his more successful opponents? And don’t you suspect that the real reason Dodd doesn’t invite his supporters to dinner is he’s afraid no one would show up?

(Carol Muller helps compile Best of the Web Today. Thanks to Glenn Reynolds, Rosanne Klass, Chris Scibelli, Michael Segal, Daniel Goldstein, Gerry McCracken, Larry Pollack, Don Stewart, Jeff Dobbs, Ben Barron, Doug Downing, Paul Martin, Gregory Merrick, Tom Knight, Dan O’Shea, Kevin Burns, Brian Azman, Santino Biscoglia, Andy Hefty, Brian Terwilliger, Ray Walton, Steve Grohovsky, Jim Reingruber, Mark Kellner, Monty Krieger, Evan Slatis, James Hervey, Tim Willis, Donald Walker, William Katz and Keith Rayburn. If you have a tip, write us at opinionjournal@wsj.com, and please include the URL.)

URL for this article: http://www.opinionjournal.com/best/?id=110010654

Today on OpinionJournal:

  • Review & Outlook: For Mr. Giuliani, it’s more than his wife that’s on the line.
  • Ilya Somin (from The Volokh Conspiracy): How come “national service” proponents never talk about drafting the old?
  • Jody Williams: China is propping up the despotic regime in Burma.


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