Lights, Camera . . . Candidacy?

Lights, Camera . . . Candidacy?
Fred Thompson is shaking up the GOP presidential field. And he’s not even running yet.

Saturday, March 17, 2007 12:01 a.m.

NEW YORK–“Expect her to recount every moment of her ordeal,” the savvy district attorney mused to his deputy. “There won’t be a dry eye in the jury.””That’s a take!” says a director of the hit NBC series “Law and Order.” With that, Fred Thompson, the former U.S. senator from Tennessee who has played “strict constructionist” prosecutor Arthur Branch for the past four years, walks back with me to his dressing room to talk about a new role he might soon be undertaking: surprise Republican presidential candidate.

It is a slightly surreal setting to be talking big-league politics. But not unprecedented. In 1965, Ronald Reagan held early strategy meetings on his nascent race for governor of California on the set of “Death Valley Days.” In 2003, Arnold Schwarzenegger stepped off a plane from a world-wide publicity tour for his last “Terminator” film and immediately huddled with advisers on his own campaign for governor. Both men effectively used their celebrity status to completely transform the races they entered.

So too may Fred Thompson. When we meet on Thursday night, it’s only been four days since he appeared on Fox News to merely announce he was “looking at” running. Chuck Todd, the political director of NBC News, notes in amazement how “a retired senator can show a tiny bit of interest and literally shake up the race overnight.”

And he is shaking up the race. Every GOP candidate is nervously watching the reaction to his possible entry. J.C. Watts, an Oklahoma congressman from 1995 to 2003, has endorsed him: “I define Fred Thompson as AC, what’s AC? All class.”

Fan blogs for “Law and Order” note that since the show is especially popular among women, a Thompson race could help close the GOP’s “gender gap.” The most pithy comment is from Craig Hammond, a former mayor of Bluefield, W.Va. He told the Bluefield News: “He’s the tall timber we’ve been waiting for. He’s the total package. He can hold the red states and pick up a few blue ones along the way.”

But Mr. Thompson appears serene about all the speculation swirling around him. “Those running are all good guys, and would be good presidents,” he says leaning back in a recliner. “But there are truly vital issues–from the looming entitlement crisis to nuclear proliferation–I’m not afraid to talk about. Lots of people have such a low regard for politicians that they’re open to a campaign that would be completely different.”So how would a possible Thompson campaign be distinctive? “Politics is now one big 24-hour news cycle, but we seem to spend less time than ever on real substance,” he muses. “What if someone harnessed the Internet and other technologies and insisted in talking about real issues in more depth than consultants would advise? What if they took risks with their race in hopes that the risks to our children could be reduced through building a mandate for good policy?”

Children are a lot on Mr. Thompson’s mind–especially his own. In 2002 he lost his daughter after she failed to come out of a drug-overdose-induced coma. Already frustrated with the Senate’s endless maneuvering over minutiae, he decided to retire at age 60 only two months later and change his life. In June of that year he married his second wife, Jeri (his first marriage at age 17 ended amicably in divorce in 1985). In 2003 they had their first child (a second was born last November).

“Within the space of a year and a half, I experienced the ultimate tragedy and the ultimate happiness,” Mr. Thompson sighs. “I count my blessings, and I have a real focused sense of purpose now.”

That brings us to some of the knocks critics have about his possible parachute drop into the “Survivor 2008” competition. Bluntly put, Fred Thompson had a reputation for being lazy in wanting to do the political chores that come with office. People openly question if he has “the fire in the belly” to really make a serious race.

“They used to say I moved slowly,” he chuckles. “But I move deliberately. I won every one of my races by more than 20 points in a state Clinton carried twice.”

But what about his well-known reputation for dating up a storm as a bachelor senator in Washington in the 1990s? “I plead guilty,” he says. “But everyone I knew is still a friend, and if somehow they aren’t I guess we’d hear about it. I’m happy with my life partner and children now.”

On issues, he addresses head-on the major complaints conservatives have about his record. He was largely stymied in his 1997 investigation of both Clinton-Gore and GOP campaign fund-raising abuses: Key witnesses declined to testify or fled the country, though evidence eventually surfaced of a Chinese plan to influence U.S. politics. He won’t argue with those who say he showed “naiveté” about how he would be stonewalled in his investigation. He says he’s wiser now.Many on the right remain angry he supported the campaign finance law sponsored by his friend John McCain. “There are problems with people giving politicians large sums of money and then asking them to pass legislation,” Mr. Thompson says. Still, he notes he proposed the amendment to raise the $1,000 per person “hard money” federal contribution limit.

Conceding that McCain-Feingold hasn’t worked as intended, and is being riddled with new loopholes, he throws his hands open in exasperation. “I’m not prepared to go there yet, but I wonder if we shouldn’t just take off the limits and have full disclosure with harsh penalties for not reporting everything on the Internet immediately.”

Mr. Thompson has also been criticized for failing to back some comprehensive tort-reform bills because of his background as a trial lawyer. Here he insists his stance was based on grounds of federalism. “I’m consistent. I address Federalist Society meetings,” he says, noting that more issues should be left to the states. For example, he cast the lonely “nay” in 99-1 votes against a national 0.8% blood alcohol level for drivers, a federal law banning guns in schools, and a measure limiting the tort liability of Good Samaritans. “Washington overreaches, and by doing so ends up not doing well the basics people really care about.” Think Katrina and Walter Reed.

Indeed, the federal government’s inability to function effectively would likely be a major theme of any Thompson campaign. “Audits have shown we’ve lost control of the waste and mismanagement in our most important agencies. It’s getting so bad it’s affecting our national security.”

Mr. Thompson says that while a senator he was long concerned with U.S. intelligence failures. “The CIA has better politicians than it has spies,” he says, referring to the internecine turf wars that have been a feature of the Bush administration.A key problem, Mr. Thompson notes, is a general lack of accountability in government, where no one pays any price for failure. When asked about President Bush’s awarding the Medal of Freedom to outgoing CIA Director George Tenet after U.S. intelligence failures in Iraq became apparent, he shakes his head: “I just didn’t understand that.”

The next president, according to Mr. Thompson, needs to exercise strong leadership “and get down in the weeds and fix a civil-service system that makes it too hard to hire good employees and too hard to fire bad ones.” He doesn’t offer specifics on what to do, but notes the “insanity” of the new Congress pushing for the unionization of homeland security employees only five years after it rejected the notion in the wake of 9/11. “Should we tie ourselves up in bureaucratic knots with the challenges we may have to face?” he asks in wonderment.

The challenges, he says, are numerous. On Iraq, he admits “we are left with nothing but bad choices.” However, he says the “worst choice” would be to have Osama bin Laden proven right when he predicted America wouldn’t have the stomach for a tough fight. The costs of Iraq have been high, but they could be even higher “if we have another stain on America like that infamous scene from Saigon 1975 in which our helicopters took off leaving those who supported us grabbing at the landing skids.”

Mr. Thompson is especially worried about nuclear proliferation. He serves as chairman of the International Security Advisory Board, along with former Clinton CIA Director Jim Woolsey and former Democratic Sen. Chuck Robb. The board recently received an unclassified briefing that convinced him three or four countries in the Middle East are “on the cusp” of acquiring nuclear weapons should the Iranians carry through with their own weapons program.

He urges continued pressure on Iran, which he says has grave domestic problems. “Iran may fall of its own weight, and we can help that by offering vocal support to dissident groups and making effective use of the airwaves to reach its people.”

On domestic issues, Mr. Thompson says a major reason Republicans lost last November was that they aided and abetted runaway government spending. Yet Democrats, he contends, are incapable of following through on their pledges to be fiscally prudent. “Their political coalition needs more revenue like a car requires gasoline,” he laughs. “Reagan showed what can be done if you have the will to push for tough choices and the ability to ask the people to accept them.”

But Mr. Thompson says those tough choices shouldn’t include the tax increases contemplated in the new budget released by Senate Democrats this week. “The phony static accounting the government uses has obscured just how successful the 2003 tax cuts have been in boosting the economy,” he says. “Lower marginal tax rates have proven to be a key to prosperity now by Kennedy, Reagan and Bush. It’s time millionaires serving in the Senate learned not to overly tax other people trying to get wealthy.”

I note that despite his humble background as the grandson of a sharecropper and son of a used-car salesman, Mr. Thompson himself is now quite wealthy. So how would he campaign against Democratic millionaires he used to serve in the Senate with, such as Hillary Clinton or John Edwards? He smiles and says he has plenty of zingers and points he would make but it’s premature to discuss them.

Mr. Thompson says he can compete with Democrats in talking plainly about the anxiety many Americans have about the economy, despite good macro numbers. “Someone who is 18 today may well have 10 employers in their career,” he says. “That’s completely different from how their parents lived. I would address that insecurity and help people adapt without shooting ourselves in the foot with protectionism and income redistribution. I had 10 employers before I finished law school.”

Fred Thompson clearly hasn’t decided whether to run for president; and he underestimates just how much the traditional fund-raising he disdains may be necessary for his long-shot campaign. But he has assets that add up to an impressive portfolio.As Republican counsel in the Watergate hearings, he began building a reputation as a straight-shooter. It was he who asked the question that forced a White House deputy to admit that Richard Nixon had secretly recorded his Oval Office conversations.

Later in the 1970s he played a key role in exposing a Tennessee cash-for-pardons scandal; his acting career began when he won the part of playing himself in the 1985 movie version of the story. Today, his national exposure is greater than ever with a dozen of his movies playing as TV repeats. All of this month he is substituting for radio legend Paul Harvey, whose show is heard on more than 1,200 stations.

Indeed, it is his need to wake up at 5 a.m. the next morning, so he can tape three Harvey segments before returning to the “Law and Order” set for a long day of shooting, that prompts Mr. Thompson to close out our chat. “With my current schedule I might have more time to myself if I gave all this up and did start a campaign,” he says as he dons a sports coat and heads for his car.

So many voters remain unsold on any of the current GOP contenders that Mr. Thompson just might trade his TV sound stage for a campaign microphone. As this is the first truly open Republican nomination fight in decades, the party might as well revel in the competition it claims to cherish in other parts of life.

Mr. Fund is a columnist for

Action Alert: Congressman Sestak, CAIR Supporter, on Meet the Press, Sunday

Action Alert: Congressman Sestak, CAIR Supporter, on Meet the Press, Sunday

By Andrew L. Jaffee,

I’m following up on Jerry Gordon’s excellent post of yesterday, “ACT Action Alert: Congressman Sestak on Meet the Press, Sunday.” It is important that people write to MSNBC at this link, “What would you ask our guests,” and explain why a U.S. Congressman shouldn’t be consorting with CAIR, a group with known links to Islamist terrorism. Feel free to use the text shown below, parts of which I’ve had published in newspapers as a letter to the editor:

How can Congressman Joe Sestak, in good conscience, plan to appear at an April 7th Council of American Islamic Relations (CAIR) fundraiser, knowing what links CAIR has to Islamist terrorism?

Chuck Schumer (D-NY) stated that CAIR’s leaders have “intimate links with Hamas” and that “we know CAIR has ties to terrorism.” Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) called CAIR “unusual in its extreme rhetoric and its associations with groups that are suspect.”

Nihad Awad, CAIR’s executive director and co-founder, exclaimed, “I am in support of the Hamas movement.” Hamas is committed to the genocide of Israelis.

CAIR’s founder, Omar Ahmad, stated, “Islam isn’t in America to be equal to any other faith, but to become dominant. The Koran, the Muslim book of scripture, should be the highest authority in America, and Islam the only accepted religion on Earth.”

Former CAIR member Randall Royer is now serving 20 years in prison on terrorism and weapons charges. CAIR’s Texas chapter founder, Ghassan Elashi, was convicted twice for involvement with Hamas. Bassem Khafagi, CAIR’s onetime community relations director, plead guilty for falsifying his visa application and passing bad checks, and was deported. Rabih Haddad, a CAIR fundraiser, was arrested and deported on terrorism charges. Siraj Wahhaj, once a member of CAIR’s advisory board, was named an unindicted co-conspirator in an attempt to blow up New York City monuments.

Click on the following links for extensive references on CAIR’s terrorist-related activities: here, and here.

Cross-posted at and IsraPundit

Europe: Sing Your Old Songs and Remember Your Old Poems

Europe: Sing Your Old Songs and Remember Your Old Poems

by Bill Levinson

There was a time when songs and poetry were central to any society, because they were the means by which the society transmitted its values, cultures, and ideals. This was even more important when most people were illiterate, so everything had to be passed on through “oral tradition.” In those days, bards, skalds, poets, and similar storytellers were highly-valued members of society, because they were the stewards of what was effectively the society’s soul. The rhyming nature of poetry doubtlessly originated so the storyteller could more easily remember what to say next, especially if he could not read.

Europe is being overrun by invading militant “Muslims” who want to turn the nations they infest into Islamic societies, to be governed by barbaric militant “Islamic” law (Sharia). This was pointed out most recently in Fjordman’s “A European Declaration of Independence” and Filip van Laenen’s “Oslo Muslims Six Times More Likely to Rape.” The problems these articles describe would not be problems in societies that have not forgotten the values, attitudes, and culture that made them great.

Native Revolt: A European Declaration of Independence reports,

Although the EU warns against “Islamophobia,” those who live in the real world know that there has been an explosion of violent infidelophobia in Western Europe staged by Muslim immigrants. This wave of violence especially targets Jews, but the attacks against Christians that are going on in the Middle East are increasingly spreading to Europe as well. In more and more cities across the continent, non-Muslims are being harassed, robbed, mugged, raped, stabbed and even killed by Muslims. Native Europeans are slowly becoming second-rate citizens in their own countries.

How can this possibly be a problem in any country whose people take pride in their heritage, culture, values, and ideals? The problem is Kumbaya-singing European multiculturalists who are willing to accept militant “Islamic” gutter cultures that sanction violence against women and “infidels” as equal to superior Euro-American cultures that uphold the natural rights of all human beings. The problem is that Europeans no longer remember their old songs and poems or, if they do, they have forgotten what they stood for and how many brave people died to uphold what they stood for. The purpose of this article is to help them to remember.

Let us begin with the Welsh, especially since March is the month of the so-called Daffodil Day in the United States. It is not Daffodil Day, it is Saint David’s Day, and it marks a famous Welsh victory over Saxon invaders. The Welsh custom of wearing leeks on Saint David’s Day comes from the fact that the Welsh soldiers, who feared that they might fail to distinguish friend from foe in the battle, attached leeks to their hats or helmets. Here is something else for our Welsh friends to remember when they see militant “Islamic” invaders menacing their land, womenfolk, and way of life. This is what Welshmen do when invaders, no matter who they are, threaten their wives, children, and homes:

Tongues of fire on Idris flaring,
news of foe-men near declaring,
to heroic deeds of daring,
call you Harlech men

Groans of wounded peasants dying,
wails of wives and children flying,
for the distant succour crying,
call you Harlech men.

Shall the voice of wailing
now be unavailing
you to rouse who never yet
in battles hour were failing.

This our answer crowds down pouring
swift as winter torrents roaring,
not in vain the voice imploring,
calls on Harlech men.

…Ere the sun is high in heaven
they you fear, by panic riven,
shall like frightened sheep be driven
far by Harlech men.

Again, it is not “Daffodil Day,” it is Saint David’s Day, as reported by Captain Fluellen in King Henry V. “”our majesty says very true: if your majesties is remembered of it, the Welshmen did good service in a garden where leeks did grow, wearing leeks in their Monmouth caps; which, your majesty know, to this hour is an honourable badge of the service; and I do believe your majesty takes no scorn to wear the leek upon Saint Tavy’s day.” (Act IV, Scene 7) And the above lyrics are “Men of Harlech” (Royal Regiment of Wales version), which is or should be so important to the Welsh that there are probably a dozen versions.

Next we come to neighboring England, whom Rudyard Kipling tells what to do when the enemy is at the gate:

“For All We Have and Are”

For all we have and are,
For all our children’s fate,
Stand up and meet the war.
The Hun is at the gate!

Our world has passed away
In wantonness o’erthrown.
There is nothing left to-day
But steel and fire and stone.

Though all we knew depart,
The old commandments stand:
“In courage keep your heart,
In strength lift up your hand.”

Once more we hear the word
That sickened earth of old:
“No law except the sword
Unsheathed and uncontrolled,”
Once more it knits mankind,
Once more the nations go
To meet and break and bind
A crazed and driven foe.

Rudyard Kipling also summarized how a proper Anglo-American soccer hooligan or droog should behave when provoked:

So we loosed a bloomin’ volley,
An’ we made the beggars cut,
An’ when our pouch was emptied out,
We used the bloomin’ butt,

Ho! My!
Don’t yer come anigh,
When Tommy is a playin’ with the baynit an’ the butt.
-Barrack Room Ballad. –

We also remind our British comrades of what Queen Elizabeth I said when her nation was threatened, not by undisciplined Islamofascist hordes but by a huge armada of Spanish warships, and troop transports filled with the dreaded Spanish tercios or matchlock musket battalions. Unlike Tony Blair, who supports gun control laws to disarm his people, Elizabeth was unafraid to appear in front of armed Englishmen even though Spain’s allies in the Church had ordered her Catholic subjects to overthrow her and probably kill her in the bargain. (Alternatively, only tyrants fear armed subjects; free governments embrace them as a second line of defense.)

My loving people,

We have been persuaded by some that are careful of our safety, to take heed how we commit our selves to armed multitudes, for fear of treachery; but I assure you I do not desire to live to distrust my faithful and loving people. Let tyrants fear, I have always so behaved myself that, under God, I have placed my chiefest strength and safeguard in the loyal hearts and good-will of my subjects; and therefore I am come amongst you, as you see, at this time, not for my recreation and disport, but being resolved, in the midst and heat of the battle, to live and die amongst you all; to lay down for my God, and for my kingdom, and my people, my honour and my blood, even in the dust. I know I have the body but of a weak and feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England too, and think foul scorn that Parma or Spain, or any prince of Europe, should dare to invade the borders of my realm …we shall shortly have a famous victory over those enemies of my God, of my kingdom, and of my people.

Sir Winston Churchill said pretty much the same thing when his little island was menaced, not by undisciplined hordes of ill-armed Islamofascists, but by a war machine that had already crushed France and Poland. Needless to say, Hitler in a Headscarf wants to plunge Civilization into not only a new Dark Age, but perhaps into a new Stone Age in which infidels will be hanged for “apostasy” and women stoned to death for “adultery,” which will include being raped. There were doubtlessly Kumbaya-singers, Michael Moores, Code Pinks, Cindy Sheehans, Axis Sallies, and Lord Haw-Haws in England who wanted to make a shameful peace with Hitler in a Toothbrush Mustache, but real Britons showed them that lionhearts don’t take orders from chickenhearts.

What General Weygand called the Battle of France is over. I expect that the Battle of Britain is about to begin. Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilization. Upon it depends our own British life, and the long continuity of our institutions and our Empire. The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us.

Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this Island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science.

Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, ‘This was their finest hour.’

There was a time when Scots knew what to do about foreign invaders–even courageous and disciplined English ones, as opposed to dirty and cowardly mobs of Islamofascists.

Scots Wha Hae [”Scots, Who Have”]

Words: Robert Burns

Wha will be a traitor-knave?
Wha can fill a coward’s grave?
Wha sae base as be a slave?
Let him turn and flee!

Wha for Scotland’s king and law
Freedom’s sword will strongly draw,
— Free-man stand, or Free-man fa’ [fall],
Let him follow me!

Next we come to our Polish comrades, who maintained their national identity despite more than a hundred years of foreign occupation.

Dąbrowski’s Mazurka

Poland is not yet lost
while we live
We will fight (with swords) for all/
That our enemies had taken from us.

March, march Dabrowski
. from Italy to Poland
Under your command
we will reunite with the nation.

…Like Czarniecki to Poznan, after Swedish annexation,
We will come back across the sea to save our motherland


Father, in tears, says to his Basia: “Just listen,
It seems that our people are beating the drums.”


(Just replace “Spaniards” with “Islamofascists”)

Nothing so moves my pity
As seeing through these lands,
Field, village, town and city
Pillaged by roving hands.
O that the Spaniards rape thee,
My Netherlands so sweet,
The thought of that does grip me
Causing my heart to bleed.

Astride on steed of mettle
I’ve waited with my host
The tyrant’s call to battle,
Who durst not do his boast.
For, near Maastricht ensconced,
He feared the force I wield.
My horsemen saw one bounce it
Bravely across the field.

SPAIN: “Santiago y cierra España!” (”Saint James and strike for Spain!”) Saint James is also known as Matamoros, “Moor-Slayer.”

Needless to say, the Kumbaya-singers are giving in to the politically-correct multiculturalists instead of rejoicing in a part of Spanish history that (unlike the Inquisition and butt-kickings at the hands of every country they fought beginning in 1588), Spaniards can actually be proud of. If it were up to us, Spaniards with any national pride whatsoever would start wearing Panama hats (an aspect of Saint James) and yelling “Santiago y cierra España!” at any bum in a dirty nightshirt who takes offense. Instead, the denizens of this has-been nation are doing as follows.

blockquote>A statue in a Spanish cathedral showing St James slicing the heads off Moorish invaders is to be removed to avoid causing offence to Muslims.

Finally we return to the United States, and this song should answer any militant “Muslims” or their multiculturalist stooges who find the display of the American flag offensive. If we wouldn’t lower our flag for offended Britons armed with Congreve rockets, why should we lower it for bums in dirty nightshirts and their multiculturalist boot-lickers?

O say, can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;
O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war’s desolation,
Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the Heav’n-rescued land
Praise the Pow’r that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust.”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Posted by Bill Levinson @ 4:23 pm |

Iraqis: life is getting better

Iraqis: life is getting better

MOST Iraqis believe life is better for them now than it was under Saddam Hussein, according to a British opinion poll published today.

The survey of more than 5,000 Iraqis found the majority optimistic despite their suffering in sectarian violence since the American-led invasion four years ago this week.

One in four Iraqis has had a family member murdered, says the poll by Opinion Research Business. In Baghdad, the capital, one in four has had a relative kidnapped and one in three said members of their family had fled abroad. But when asked whether they preferred life under Saddam, the dictator who was executed last December, or under Nouri al-Maliki, the prime minister, most replied that things were better for them today.

Only 27% think there is a civil war in Iraq, compared with 61% who do not, according to the survey carried out last month.

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By a majority of two to one, Iraqis believe military operations now under way will disarm all militias. More than half say security will improve after a withdrawal of multinational forces.

Margaret Beckett, the foreign secretary, said the findings pointed to progress. “There is no widespread violence in the four southern provinces and the fact that the picture is more complex than the stereotype usually portrayed is reflected in today’s poll,” she said.

Anti-war protesters echo Vietnam

Anti-war protesters echo Vietnam

By Tarron Lively
Published March 18, 2007

Thousands of anti-war demonstrators yesterday marched to the Pentagon to rail against President Bush and the Iraq war in a protest designed to evoke a similar march 40 years ago against the war in Vietnam.
    The demonstrators assembled just before noon on the Mall at 23rd Street and Constitution Avenue Northwest, where they were met by a large group of war supporters and military veterans waving American flags.
    Many of the veterans were drawn to the protest because of reports that protesters might try to vandalize the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
    Brian Becker, the national coordinator for the umbrella protest group Act Now to Stop War and End Racism, or ANSWER, said the reports were groundless, and he called the counterprotesters “Bush puppets” who made purposely misleading statements to stir up bad blood between protesters and veterans.
    “These people tried to manipulate the feelings of Vietnam veterans by saying we would deface the Vietnam memorial,” Mr. Becker said. “These people can fool some people sometimes, but the people of this country are waking up and that’s what this demonstration shows.”
    The two sides were separated along Constitution Avenue in Northwest by barricades and police on foot, on motorcycles and on horses. Oral exchanges between the groups were intense and laced with expletives, but no incidents were reported.
    Jim Runge, an Army veteran from Tidewater, Va., came with a large group of military veterans and was among hundreds who surrounded the memorial.
    “If you want to protest the government by throwing paint around, that’s fine. It’s the right of expression,” he said. “But to deface the memorial of the people who gave their lives and the memorial that recognizes their sacrifice? That’s cruel and it’s stupid.”
    Heather Harts’ohorn, 50, of Alexandria said she was puzzled by the counterprotesters’ support for the war.
    “I don’t know why veterans are so willing to send others into combat,” she said. “Who knows better than Vietnam veterans about how a war can ruin someone’s life? Do they want them to stay in Iraq until they all come home in Ziploc bags?”
    The throng of anti-war demonstrators left the Lincoln Memorial just before 1 p.m., crossing the Arlington Memorial Bridge into Virginia to rally at the north parking lot of the Pentagon. Many carried signs with slogans such as “Impeach Bush” and “Bring the troops home now.”
    “We’re here in the shadow of the war machine,” said anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan.
    “It’s like being in the shadow of the Death Star,” Mrs. Sheehan told the crowd, referring to the planet-destroying weapon in the movie “Star Wars.” “They take their death and destruction. and they export it around the world. We need to shut it down.”
    Police do not give official crowd estimates but said privately that perhaps 10,000 to 20,000 anti-war demonstrators marched, with the crowd of counterprotesters numbering in the thousands. The demonstration was smaller than a January anti-war protest that featured a number of celebrity speakers, including Vietnam-era activist Jane Fonda.
    The march yesterday shared its route with — but drew significantly fewer participants than — the Oct. 21, 1967, march on the Pentagon that was its inspiration. That protest began peacefully but turned ugly in clashes between authorities and more radical elements of the estimated crowd of 50,000 in front of the Defense Department’s headquarters. More than 600 protesters were arrested that day.
    Police yesterday reported only a few isolated conflicts with protesters and a handful of arrests.
    In one incident, officers in riot gear confronted about 100 demonstrators who strayed from the approved march route. Pentagon police spokeswoman Cheryl Irwin said five persons were cited and released during another incident after the march when they refused orders to leave Arlington Memorial Bridge so that police could reopen it to traffic.
    Friday night, thousands of Christians prayed for peace during an anti-war service at the Washington National Cathedral. A crowd of about 3,000 later marched through snow and wind to the White House, where police arrested 222 persons for violating a requirement for protesters to keep moving.
    President Bush was at Camp David this weekend.
    Similar rallies were scheduled yesterday in Denver, Chicago, Oklahoma City, Hartford, Conn., and Lincoln, Neb. Overseas, more than 3,000 people protested peacefully in Istanbul, Turkey, and about 1,000 in Athens, Greece.
    A rally is scheduled to be held today in San Francisco.
    •This article is based in part on wire service reports. 

Palestinian Christians Look Back on a Year of Troubles

Palestinian Christians Look Back on a Year of Troubles

A remarkably honest look by Isabel Kershner for the New York Times (thanks to the Constantinopolitan Irredentist) at how Hamas is making life difficult for Christians in Palestinian-controlled areas.

TAYBEH, West Bank — Jack Massis, 51, a grocer here in this last entirely Christian village in the West Bank, speaks matter-of-factly about how two of his teenage sons were beaten with clubs last month.They had argued with members of a Muslim family that had moved three years ago to the edge of Taybeh, a picturesque village in the hills near Ramallah with a dwindling population of 1,300. Mr. Massis’ sons had used a road that ran along the newcomers’ property, which the newcomers insisted was private. The sons spent the night in the hospital, and five members of the Muslim family spent a few days in jail.

In the year since Hamas came to power, some of the fears of a newly Islamist cast to Palestinian society are being borne out. Christians have begun quietly complaining that local disagreements quickly take on a sectarian flavor. And reports of beatings and property damage by Muslims have grown.

In one of the most serious cases, Palestinian gunmen in September set the Y.M.C.A. building on fire in the West Bank city of Qalqilya, where Hamas members hold all 15 local council seats. Muslim figures in the city had previously accused the Y.M.C.A. of engaging in missionary activity and warned it to close down.

But few point directly at Hamas, looking instead to the overall stresses on Palestinian society and its increasing thuggishness. As Mr. Massis said of his sons’ beatings, “There are such problems every day.”

While it is hard to gauge what role intimidation and nationalist sensibilities play, there is widespread denial of any official persecution. Some prominent Christians praise the Hamas leadership for allowing the Christian community its religious freedom and conducting itself in a more honorable fashion than the previous government did.

“The Christians are happier now, with Hamas, than in the period before,” said Jeries Khoury, the Christian director of Al Liqa, an institute for religious studies. “They are respected. Of course people are still leaving, but Hamas, or ‘the Muslims,’ are the last reason for that.”

Of course, dhimmi Christians will always say everything is wonderful — if they know what’s good for them.

The “race-hate” controversy at Cambridge

The “race-hate” controversy at Cambridge

A few weeks ago we posted a news item saying that “A Cambridge University student is at the centre of a race-hate probe after printing anti-Islamic material in a magazine.” Now a source at Cambridge has sent in these scans of the offending material. You will see that there is material attacking Christianity, which no one is upset about, and no one has characterized as “race-hate.” But reprint a Muhammad cartoon, and your university career could be on the line.

The scans below are as I received them, with some blackouts.