THE MOST EFFECTIVE DEMOTED TERRORIST. Following up on Matt's item below, it's worth noting this Eli Lakereport yesterday that a move was afoot to lower the price on Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's head before he was killed because of a somewhat different assessment of his importance on the part of U.S. forces:
Even as American and Iraqi soldiers were closing in on Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the commander of the American forces in Iraq was trying to get Washington to lower the terrorist leader's importance and profile.
LIKE RATS FROM A SINKING SHIP.Michael Gerson, the exceptionally skilled speechwriter who put all them purdy werds in the President's mouth, is retiring. "It seemed like a good time." Gerson said. "Things are back on track a little. Some of the things I care about are on a good trajectory." Apparently, one of the things he cared about was not the Bush presidency, now languishing in the mid-30's.
PLEASE, NO MORE JACKBOOTS STOMPING ON HUMAN FACES! To add a slightly more frivolous point to Matt's post below about Jonah Goldberg, isn't it high time to retire the "jackboots-stomping-on-a-human-face" clich� that Goldberg quotes "Derb" as using? I mean, does any military outfit itself with jackboots anymore? That's a real question. Anybody know? My inclination is to think that the only people who wear jackboots and might want to stomp on human faces these days are off begging on St. Mark's Place in New York's East Village.
BASEBALL IS ONE THING, BUT PLEASE, NOT BASKETBALL. I sincerely hope that Matt is wrong about the imminent takeover of basketball by the saberrnetric kudzu that's come to spread itself over baseball. I have no problem with it there. After all, the difference between the essential thrill of watching the average major-league baseball game and the essential thrill of adding up long columns of numbers is not vast. But more than any other sport, basketball relies on its performance esthetic for its essential appeal.
ECONOMICS 101. In regard to the minimum wage debate, I'm getting a little tired of appeals to "Economics 101" (or Social Analysis 10, as the case may be) as a conversation-stopper in political debate. After all, there's a reason they offer more economics classes and you don't get your degree after taking just one. A lot of introductory physics classes don't deal with relativity or quantum mechanics, which doesn't make quantum mechanics wrong; it makes introductory physics an oversimplification of complicated reality designed to provide a foundation for further learning.
SINCE WHEN HAS SHAME STOPPED THEM? I'm going to disagree with Matt's hypothesis that intellectual writers are focusing of football because all the other sports have become too math-heavy for them. First, like my friend Brian Beutler, I think the upsurge in football commentary is a function of the quadrennial World Cup, rather than some sort of soccer fetish. Where was all this commentary, as Brian wonders, in the halcyon days of three weeks ago?
DEFENDING BUSH FROM JONAH'S SMEARS. I think Jonah Goldberg's notion that the Bush administration has erred by emphasizing democracy over other liberal values -- the rule of law, pluralism, etc. -- is appealing, but basically mistaken. I also thing he's missing the point that this has actually become a fairly standard attack on Bush from important left-of-center circles.
MORE ON THE MINIMUM.Will Wilkinson is a bit exercised because my argument against the minimum wage wasn't a bulletproof econometric conclusion to the minimum wage debate -- also, because he appears to not understand that an argument against obvious correlation isn't an argument for positive correlation. Sigh. This isn't an endable debate. But Will's argument against me is one of the more frustrating turns in it, an oversimplified appeal to "economics 101." So let's have a lesson...
BUSH AND HISTORY. Ever since Bush turned unpopular and conservatives conveniently decided that Bush wasn't a conservative after all, a lot of liberals have been trying to nail down the argument that, no, the failures of today's GOP just are the failures of conservatism. I think Alan Wolfewriting in the newWashington Monthly does the best job I've seen yet. Among other things, the article just includes a lot of great quips. The lead quip, though, is actually something I have complicated views about: "Search hard enough and you might find a pundit who believes what George W.
BEST. TERRORIST. EVER. That's Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, according toGeorge Will. Or at least he's "the most effective terrorist in history." That seems misguided. Zarqawi's dead. What's more, I'm quite certain that his long-term goal of constructing a pan-Islamic neo-Caliphate or whatever isn't actually going to be achieved. Where's the love for Michael Collins or Haganah-era David Ben-Gurion?