Friday, August 27, 2004

TOM GREEN GETS PAROLE

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A few weeks back I blogged about Tom Green's parole hearing. Whatever he said, it worked
A polygamist serving up to a life term for having sex with his first wife when she was 13 years old will be granted parole from the Utah State Prison.

Tom Green will be freed Aug. 7, 2007, after spending six years behind bars, the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole said Thursday.

The jail term will be just shy of the six years and three months suggested by parole guidelines for Green, who was sent to prison for up to life for a child rape conviction for "marrying" and having sex with his first wife, Linda Kunz. Green, now 56, also was sentenced to zero-to-five-year terms on four counts of bigamy for having four other wives.
...
At his parole hearing two weeks ago, Green denounced polygamy and claimed he would never let his own 13-year-old daughter -- one of 32 children -- marry a man 25 years her senior.
...
He will be supervised by parole officers, and any inappropriate contact with underage girls or with women other than Kunz, with whom he plans to live, could revoke his parole.


What does "inappropriate contact with . . . women other than Kunz" mean? Heck if I know.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

JOHN KERRY'S "DUKAKIS MOMENT"

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During the course of some presidential election contests there seems to occur a Moment that, in hindsight, exemplifies why the loser lost. George Romney's presidential aspirations were sunk the Moment he attributed his initial support of the Vietnam War to his being "brainwashed" by the U.S. military. Gary Hart's Moment occurred when the Miami Herald broke the Donna Rice Scandal. Howard Dean's Moment was his post-Iowa Caucus "Yeagh!" scream.

The epitome of this Moment, however, is this picture of Michael Dukakis riding on a tank:



For sheer dorkiness, Dukakis' picture takes the cake, so it seems appropriate to name the moment that defines a presidential candidate's loss as the "Dukakis Moment".

Why am I bringing all of this up? Because I think John Kerry had his Dukakis Moment last night:

After weeks of charge and countercharge in the presidential campaign, comedian Jon Stewart tried Tuesday to get to the bottom of the debate over Democrat John Kerry's military service in Vietnam.

...

As Kerry launched into a monologue about why President Bush avoids talking about issues like the economy, jobs and the environment, the comedian interrupted.

"I'm sorry," Stewart said. "Were you or were you not in Cambodia?"

Stewart and Kerry then leaned in and stared each other down before Stewart asked about other things Kerry's opponents are saying.

John Kerry didn't answer. That was his Dukakis Moment.

UPDATE: Hmm. Looks like I'm not the only one who is comparing Kerry to Dukakis:
There is no President in modern memory who is so universally hated than George W. Bush, and yet, you've never polled outside of the margin of error. Now, the polls are going against you, and by my measurement, its going to get worse, not better from here. Bush is a marathon runner and you are a country club golf cart riding, two caddy golfer. As long as you continue to bring your B game to an A game park, you and your party are going to look fools. At some point, you will begin to see you allies in your party and the press make you the pinata at this party. They will not take the heat for your loss, they will tie a can around your neck and toss you out into the exercise yard for the guards to shoot at. Everyone loves a winner, but no one can stand a loser.

You sir, are a loser. You will go down in history as the man who made Dukakis look good.
...
Prediction: Mcgovern, Mondale, Dukakis and now Kerry will each get an entry in the hall of fame of losers. 40 states will go for Bush. It will not be a close election.


Ouch.



Monday, August 23, 2004

SUPPORTING THE TROOPS VS. OPPOSING THE WAR

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During my second year in law school I worked in a small personal injury law firm in Salt Lake. One day I got into an extended debate with one of the attorneys and another clerk about whether we should go to war in Iraq (at that point there had been a troop build-up, but Saddam was still in power).

These two people (I'll call them Jane and Adam) were adamantly opposed to any military action in Iraq and said they would continue to oppose any such action once hostilities began. I said that I could respect their opposition to military action, but that once hostilities began they should shut up and support the troops.

Jane and Adam were aghast. How could I say such a thing? Hadn't I heard of the first amendment? Dissent is patriotic! How could I advocate censorship during wartime?

My response was that politics should end at the water's edge, that dissent after hostilities began only emboldened those fighting our troops and put our troops in greater danger, and that it is inconsistent to claim to "support our troops" in one breath and demonize the work they are doing in the next.

Fast forward to today, where I came across an NY Times op-ed written by Major Glen Butler, a major in the U.S. Marine Corps (via Instapundit, which doesn't require a login). Major Butler has a number of good points. First:


When critics of the war say their advocacy is on behalf of those of us risking our lives here, it's a type of false patriotism. I believe that when Americans say they "support our troops," it should include supporting our mission, not just sending us care packages. They don't have to believe in the cause as I do; but they should not denigrate it. That only aids the enemy in defeating us strategically.

Michael Moore recently asked Bill O'Reilly if he would sacrifice his son for Falluja. A clever rhetorical device, but it's the wrong question: this war is about Des Moines, not Falluja. . . .

No, I would not sacrifice myself, my parents would not sacrifice me, and President Bush would not sacrifice a single marine or soldier simply for Falluja. Rather, that symbolic city is but one step toward a free and democratic Iraq, which is one step closer to a more safe and secure America.

Yep. You can't claim to at once support the troops but oppose the work they are doing.

Second, Major Butler states: "We marines are proudly apolitical, yet stereotypically right-wing conservative. I'm both. And I'd be here with my fellow devildogs, fighting just as hard, whether John Kerry or George W. Bush or Ralph Nader were our commander-in-chief, until we're told to go home." Methinks the anti-war folks could honestly make such a claim. I suspect much of the opposition to the war in Iraq is anti-Bush hatred dressed up as excessively self-conscious "patriotic dissent."

Third, Major Butler prognosticates a bit:


Now we are on the verge of victory or defeat in Iraq. Success depends not only on battlefield superiority, but also on the trust and confidence of the American people. I've read some articles recently that call for cutting back our military presence in Iraq and moving our troops to the peripheries of most cities. Such advice is well-intentioned but wrong - it would soon lead to a total withdrawal. Our goal needs to be a safe Iraq, free of militias and terrorists; if we simply pull back and run, then the region will pose an even greater threat than it did before the invasion. I also fear if we do not win this battle here and now, my 7-year-old son might find himself here in 10 or 11 years, fighting the same enemies and their sons.

Amen.

Friday, August 20, 2004

JOHN KERRY IS LOSING IT

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I'm not too interested in blogging on the presidential race. There are far better resources out there for all of my readers (and thanks to both of you for stopping by my blog this week).

However, I couldn't resist comparing this comment from Kerry spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter:
"[White House spokesman Scott McClellan] needs to understand that John Kerry is not the type of leader who will sit and read 'My Pet Goat' to a group of second graders while America is under attack."

That was a reference to Sept. 11, 2001, when Bush remained in an elementary school classroom for several minutes after being informed by an aide that the World Trade Center had been hit.
With this one from John Kerry himself (speaking of what he did when he first heard about the 9/11 attacks):
"I was in the Capitol. We'd just had a meeting - we'd just come into a leadership meeting in Tom Daschle's office, looking out at the Capitol. And as I came in, Barbara Boxer and Harry Reid were standing there, and we watched the second plane come in to the building. And we shortly thereafter sat down at the table and then we just realized nobody could think, and then boom, right behind us, we saw the cloud of explosion at the Pentagon. And then word came from the White House, they were evacuating, and we were to evacuate, and so we immediately began the evacuation."

How appropriate that Kerry lumps himself in with fellow leftist do-nothing non-thinkers such as Boxer, Daschle and Reid.

Thanks to the several readers today who sent us this fascinating bit from Blog for Bush: "the second plane hit the World Trade Center at 9:03 a.m., and the plane hit the Pentagon at 9:43 a.m. By Kerry's own words, he and his fellow senators sat there for forty minutes, realizing 'nobody could think.'"

In the immortal words of Glenn Reynolds: Heh.

UPDATE: Okay, one more, um, comment on John Kerry:
Kerry Website Revised

From the Boston Globe:
The Kerry campaign removed a 20-page batch of documents yesterday from its website after The Boston Globe quoted a Navy officer who said the documents wrongly portrayed Kerry’s service. Edward Peck had said he — not Kerry — was the skipper of Navy boat No. 94 at a time when the Kerry campaign website credited the senator with serving on the boat. The website had described Kerry’s boat as being hit by rockets and said a crewmate was injured in an attack. But Peck said those events happened when he was the skipper. The campaign did not respond to a request to explain why the records were removed.


Posted by Alan Brain at August 21, 2004 09:11 AM |

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Comments

Oops!

How do you like people Bringing it On, Senator Windsock?

Posted by: TL at August 21, 2004 10:42 AM
Yeah, it's petty, but the "Senator Windsock" comment made me laught out loud.

SOLDER KILLED IN IRAQ . . . WHILE ON CANDY PATROL

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An online acquaintance of mine has a brother who was killed in Iraq on August 17. Speaking of the circumstances of his brother's death, he said:
I just got some more (and correct) information. Henry wasn't shot in the chest, he was shot in the neck by a sniper. He was stitting on top of his humvee handing out candy while his buddies were playing with several Iraqi children. He was taken back to the base and then med-evaced out of there. During the med-evac is when he died. He was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star. Also, they were unable to find/kill the sniper who shot him.
My condolences to his family.

UPDATE: Here is a news article on Henry's death.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

SOME MORMONS GET SCAMMED . . . AGAIN

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This sort of thing really irritates me:
7 arrested; victims lured by trust fund

Authorities say the story was as compelling as it was bogus: Descendants of Mormon church founder Joseph Smith had created a $1.6 trillion trust fund held overseas, and investors were needed to bring the money back home.

The FBI said yesterday it had broken up a massive fraud ring operating out of an Ocean Beach liquor store and a Mission Valley apartment complex. It said flim-flam artists flew to Utah, Texas, Idaho and other states pitching ways to broker phony deals.

Over 100 victims were bilked out of between $20 million and $50 million . . .
...

"They targeted largely people of means without a lot of sophistication," Lee said.

Investors were sometimes promised annual returns of 100 percent for 99 years.

"There were religious undertones to virtually every part of this," Lee said, noting that investigators observed prayer meetings held with some potential investors.

Those behind the scam claimed a link to descendants of Smith, the founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but were in no way connected to the church, Lee said.
Now, part of me would like to say that some Mormons are easy prey to flim-flam artists because of their piety and willingness to trust. Unfortunately, I don't think that's the case. It's more a matter of gullibility and greed.

When scammers target Mormons qua Mormons, they use religion as a "foot in the door," so to speak (as was the case in the above story). The remainder of the scam, however, relies on the victims' too-eagerly-given trust coupled with the victims' greedy desire for a quick buck. I love my fellow Latter-day Saints, I really do. But mixing religion and business in this way is just a bad, bad idea.

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UPDATE: Yep, I was right. This quote from FBI Special Agent Jan Caldwell makes it pretty clear that the victims were in it for the moolah:
"Among other promises, Harrell [the alleged mastermind of the scheme] guaranteed some investors 100 percent annual return on their money for 99 years," Caldwell said. "Harrell's victims ranged from Florida to Oregon, and the individual investments spread from $2,000 to millions."

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

BYU PERFORMS WELL ON PRINCETON REVIEW

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When I travelled to Washington State to meet in-laws for the first time eight years ago, I discovered they harbored a general feeling of apathy, perhaps even antipathy, about BYU, this despite the fact that A) they are all active members of the LDS Church, and B) I had met their daughter (now my wife) at BYU. Part of their jibes about BYU were surely in jest, but it seemed to me at the time that, in truth, they really did dislike the school.

Maybe it was a holdover from some of the tension between "Utah" Mormons and the rest of the LDS community. Having grown up in Utah, and then having lived in several other places (Missouri, California, Arizona, Taiwan and Washington State), I can see some reasonable criticisms of Utah LDS culture. Perhaps it all boils down to the subtle, almost unconscious, notion that Utah is "Zion" - or the nearest thing to it - and that everywhere else is the "mission field." This comparison really rankles my mother-in-law.

I tend to think that the Utah-as-Zion idea (which I reject, by the way, at least as far as Utah being held out as more "Zionish" than anywhere else) has its roots in the mass emigrations to Utah of the late 19th century. References to Utah as being the "center stakes of Zion" were accurate back then, but not now. There have long been more Latter-day Saints outside of Utah than in it, and there are now more members of the Church outside the United States than in it.

Anyway, back to the point of this post. I read this morning that BYU performed fairly well on the Princeton Review survey:
Predictably — after all, this is the sixth straight time — the Princeton Review ranked BYU No. 1 on its list of sober colleges and universities. No other school has remained nearly so long atop of any of the 64 lists produced by the annual guide for prospective college students.

The real surprise this year is that BYU finished No. 1 in seven categories, including great library — ahead of Princeton (second) and Harvard (fourth).

Two years ago BYU didn't even make the top 20, then vaulted to third last year.
BYU ranked first in the following categories:

-Great Library

-Stone-cold Sober (least amount of drinking by students)

-Got Milk? (low beer consumption)

-Scotch & Soda, Hold the Scotch (low hard liquor consumption)

-Don't Inhale (low marijuana use)

-Students Pray on a Regular Basis

-Future Rotarians and Daughters of the American Revolution

BYU also ranked second for "Town-Gown Relations are Good" (city and campus get along), fifth for "Students Most Nostalgic for Ronald Reagan" (students lean right politically), sixth for "Best Quality of Life," seventh for "Alternative Lifestyle not an Alternative" (low acceptance of the gay community), seventh for "Happiest Students," twelfth for "Everyone Plays Intramural Sports," and nineteenth for "Jock Schools" (intramural and intercollegiate sports are popular).

I think the recognition for the library and the various "quality of life" categories (happiest students, low alcohol and drug use, sports, etc.) make BYU look really good to students and parents of students who are, with good reason, put off by the raucous lifestyle at other schools.

That said, I would like to see BYU recognized for its academic excellence. Perhaps that's not covered much in the Princeton Review, or perhaps it is and BYU just isn't up to snuff in the overall picture yet. The law school is drawing sharper students every year (this table shows that the median GPA and LSAT scores for incoming BYU students is very, very good). BYU's graduate accounting program consistently ranks near the top in the nation (as does the bachelor's program). BYU's MBA program is ranked 39th in the current U.S. News survey. I think the undergraduate programs at BYU could, with some effort, compete with the best across the nation.

As for my in-laws, they've mellowed a bit about BYU. In fact, one of my brothers-in-law will be sending in his application any day now. I wish him the best.


Monday, August 16, 2004

FEDERAL JUDGE BLOWS A GASKET - WITH GOOD REASON

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As you may know, I currently work as a law clerk in a small firm in Provo, Utah. I spent most of last week writing a fairly extensive memorandum responding to the opposing party's motion for sanctions and attorney's fees. They are accusing us, along with our client, of attempting to frustrate their discovery efforts. Their motion was quite acrimonious and entirely unnecessary, which made it rather annoying to spend a significant amount of time drafting a 37-page memorandum (with exhibits, measured about 2 inches thick). It's a good memo and I'm rather confident we'll prevail on the motion, but the unnecessary effort and expense caused me a wee bit of frustration.

So it was rather refreshing to read this blog post (courtsey of Overlawyered.com) about a federal judge in Texas (where else?) named Sam Sparks who included some rather choice comments about overly-litigious attorneys in his order:
You have a pretty good idea that you're not going to get the relief requested when the judge starts his order with "When the undersigned accepted the appointment from the President of the United States of the position now held, he was ready to face the daily practice of law in federal courts with presumably competent lawyers. No one warned the undersigned that in many instances his responsibility would be the same as a person who supervised kindergarten."

Judge Sam Sparks of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas in Austin continues:
Frankly, the undersigned would guess that the lawyers in this case did not attend kindergarten as they never learned how to get along well with others. Notwithstanding the history of filings and antagonistic motions full of personal insults and requiring multiple discovery hearings, earning the disgust of this Court, the lawyers continue ad infinitum.
Of course Judge Sparks was just getting warmed up. Later in the order, he writes:
The Court simply wants to scream, "Get a life" or "Do you have any other cases?" or "When is the last time you registered for anger management classes?"
Just because the lawyers are litigators doesn't make overly litigious behavior acceptable. Petty sniping and inability to agree on matters that won't affect the outcome of the case are traits that will surely get a lawyer on the judge's bad side. And that just might affect the outcome of the case. It's not just bad manners, it's bad lawyering.
Sage bit o' wisdom there.

JOHN THE BAPTIST CAVE . . . FOUND?

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As a member of the LDS ("Mormon") Church, I try to keep up on current events in biblical archaeology. However, this sort of thing doesn't seem very impressive to me:
AP: Group Discovers John the Baptist Cave
Aug 16, 11:36 AM (ET)

By KARIN LAUB

KIBBUTZ TZUBA, Israel (AP) - Archaeologists said Monday they have found a cave where they believe John the Baptist anointed many of his disciples - a huge cistern with 28 steps leading to an underground pool of water.

During an exclusive tour of the cave by The Associated Press, archaeologists presented wall carvings they said tell the story of the fiery New Testament preacher, as well as a stone they believe was used for ceremonial foot washing.
...

"John the Baptist, who was just a figure from the Gospels, now comes to life," said British archaeologist Shimon Gibson, who supervised the dig outside Jerusalem.

However, others said there was no proof that John the Baptist ever set foot in the cave, about 2 1/2 miles from Ein Kerem, the preacher's hometown and now part of Jerusalem.

"Unfortunately, we didn't find any inscriptions," said James Tabor, a religious studies professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
...

Both Tabor and Gibson said it was very likely that the wall carvings, including one showing a man with a staff and wearing animal skin, told the story of John the Baptist. The carvings stem from the Byzantine period and apparently were made by monks in the fourth or fifth century.

Gibson said he believed the monks commemorated John at a site linked to him by local tradition.
Color me skeptical, but carvings representing a guy wearing animal skins located in a cave venerated by monks who lived 4 or 5 centuries after-the-fact just doesn't strike me as impressive evidence.

I think Christians are sometimes too inclined to rely on archaeological or other forms of secular evidence to validate religious claims. There's even a hokey outfit called Wyatt Archaeological Research (replete with a museum) that claims to have found evidence for everything from Noah's Ark to Sodom and Gomorrah to the Hebrews' crossing of the Red See to the Ark of the Covenant (Indiana Jones is, according to reports, green with envy).

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for looking at religious claims in their historical context. But I just don't think the mysteries of the universe will be proved by pottery shards or excavated mummies. Belief in God will always, I think, be fundamentally a matter of faith.

Friday, August 13, 2004

TOM GREEN RENOUNCES POLYGAMY

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This is interesting:
Tom Green Admits Wrongdoing Before Parole Board

Aug. 13, 2004

DRAPER, Utah (AP) -- Polygamist Tom Green told the parole board he now understands the error of his ways.

One of his wives, Linda Kunz, also claimed she now understands the error of his ways.

Green, 56, was convicted of first-degree felony rape for having married Kunz when she was 13 and was sentenced to five years to life in prison. He also was sentenced to zero-to-five-year terms on four counts of bigamy for having four other wives.
...

Parole board Chairman Michael Sibbett asked during Thursday's hearing at the prison in the Salt Lake City suburb of Draper what Green would tell his own 13- and 14-year-old daughters if one of them wanted to marry a man 25 years her senior.

"I would tell them they were not (to do it), as far as I could prevent it," Green answered. "And the man would have to seek some help (therapy)."

Sibbett asked Green where this change in attitude came from.

"From the great opportunity I've had in the last two years to do a lot of thinking and reflecting," said Green, who wept quietly during the 40-minute hearing. "It has been a very eye-opening experience and a wake-up call."

Green said his family is paying the price for the choices he made.

"We shouldn't delude ourselves with vain crusades or fancy ourselves victims or persecuted minorities to justify the things we've just made up our minds to do," Green said.

I wonder if he's sincere about it. I also wonder what's going to happen to his family. Here's the odd thing: If Tom Green gets out on parole, a condition of his parole will be than he cannot maintain his prior husband-and-wives relationships. However, if he "divorces" his plural wives, then it would seem that he could continue to live with them and not violate the conditions of his parole.

In other words, living with several women simultaneously and having children with any/some/all of them is okay as long as you are only married to one or none of them.

But since his "plural" marriages were never recognized by the state, he can't "divorce" them. So it seems like the only thing Tom Green will have to do is keep his big mouth shut. As long as he does not represent to society that he is married to more than one woman, he's safe.

What a weird situation.

Monday, August 09, 2004

RELIGIOUS INTOLERANCE IN RUSSIA

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This morning I came across an article in the Moscow News about how Russian Orthodox and Muslims are opposing the LDS Church's effort to build a church in Saratov, Russia:
Russian Orthodox, Muslims Battle Mormon Building in South Russia

Orthodox Christians, Russian Muslims and Cossacks have joined forces in the south Russian city of Saratov in battling the efforts of local Mormons to build a temple in the city center, too close for comfort, they say, to an Orthodox church and a mosque.

Cossacks, Muslims, and Orthodox Christians rallied in the city center Saturday, Gazeta.ru reported. Demonstrators called the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — the name of the Mormon church — a “devilish, socially dangerous sect that spies for the CIA.”

The Mormon Church purchased a building in the city center in 2001 that happened to be close to both a mosque and a central Orthodox church. They plan to renovate the building, and use it for prayers. In a statement to Gazeta.ru, however, they denied that they were going to build a temple or a church.
...

As a result of the protests, however, their building license has been revoked by city authorities. Citing the Russian Constitution, which says that all religions have equal rights before the law, Mormon representatives appealed to city authorities to allow them to proceed.

They have since gotten no response.
...

A regional administration chief told the online newspaper that he has no intention of helping the Mormons get their building license back.

“I have respect for everyone who believes, but the Mormon teaching contradicts Russian traditions,” he said, echoing cries of protest Russians have issued against other religious groups such as Jehovah’s Witnesses and Hare Krishna.

In court, however, the Mormons have every chance to win, another source in the city administration was quoted as saying, because there protesters have no legal leverage and all the documents the Mormons have for renovating the building are in order.
It seems that the LDS Church is facing animosity on two grounds: religious (being a small, new minority faith) and political (being an "American" faith).

By the way, the article erroneously states that the LDS Church is planning to build a temple in Saratov. LDS Temples are always publicly announced well before they are opened, and no such announcement has been made for a temple in Russia (although there has been one announced for Kiev, Ukraine).

Friday, August 06, 2004

JAPANESE INTERNMENT CAMPS AND PROFILING

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Back during my first year in law school (and a few months after 9/11) I wrote a law review article entitled Rational Profiling in America's Airports which was published in the Journal of Public Law, a law journal at BYU's J. Reuben Clark Law School. My basic thesis is that age, gender and race should be incorporated as profiling factors (among others, such as when the ticked was purchased, how it was purchased, etc.) currently in use at airports.

One point I addressed briefly was the Japanese internment camps during World War II. I admittedly didn't do a huge amount of research on this topic as it was not central to the paper. However, I read enough to make me think that the conventional wisdom that the internment camps were bad, bad, bad and totally without foundation is not necessarily true.

It appears that I am not alone. Michelle Malkin has published a book entitled In Defense of Internment: The Case for 'Racial Profiling' in World War II and the War on Terror. According to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, "Malkin purports to debunk the common historical view that the internment was largely driven by wartime hysteria and racism. She maintains that historians and federal panels have played down information showing that Japan had established an extensive espionage network on the West Coast."

It's come under some criticism, to which Ms. Malkin has responded. Interesting stuff. I'll try to blog more on this as time permits.