• President What's Next?

    If we're going to attack Bush for being childish, not knowing the diplomatic protocol for a pee break is really the least of our worries (incidentally, Bush should've just asked me, as, according to Google, I am the authority on all things bladder-related). I'd be much more concerned with the apparent merging of his ADD and Great Man of History pretensions. When I was kid, I figured life must be episodic, and if I could just land a job as a hero, I could do something stupendous every week ! But, as it turned out, doing great things takes lots of work, meticulous planning, and a fair amount of drudgery. You can't save the world in 30 minutes, rest at the ranch for a fortnight, and return, next Tuesday, for a new installment of My Fantastically Exciting Life. Remaking the world requires you to stay up late. With Iraq decidedly unsaved, Bush now knows that. But if this is right, it may not matter. What worries me is that he's already extracted his Manichean satisfaction from that...
  • Hey Hey Hey, Goodbye

    Apparently, The NY Times is locking their op-ed writers behind a subscription wall tomorrow, $50 for the secret password. If they can charge for their content, I can reprint mine. So here, fresh from May 16th, is my opinion on this:
  • How to Anger Friends and Lose Influence With People

    You know, I never wanted Bolton -- I don't trust folks with such aggressive facial hair -- but I figured he'd be on a short leash, a neutered sop to the neocons. And so watching him bark, growl, and tear through the UN Reform process, killing a document we should have wanted, derailing progress on nonproliferation that we benefit from...It doesn't brighten my mornings. But even so, I still believe him symptom rather than cause. Bolton's a boil on the ass of our foreign policy, a hacking cough and chunky phlegm afflicting our Diplomatic Corps. No fun, to be sure, but not the underlying problem, either. For that, you should look to the accelerating worthlessness of America's signature on a treaty. Examples range from the big, like our split from the ICC and Kyoto Accords, all the way down to the small, like our gleefully illegal rejection of NAFTA's rulings on softwood. This is from The Economist:
  • You Know You've Made It When...

    Faithful readers will recall the merriment and rejoicing that came when we found I was google's first hit for "what does it mean when I pee and it hurts?" Guess what!? More good news. Yesterday, I got a hit from "What does it mean when I pee blood?" I'm first there too. You could, theoretically, piss some hemoglobin, dash to the computer, slam the question into Google, press "I'm feeling lucky", and end up at my coverage of Hurricane Katrina! This blogging thing is really awesome.
  • As Goes My Party, So Goes Yours

    In his Prospect column this week, Matt wrote: The other possibility is that Republicans are so convinced that government is inefficient and full of people who don't know what they're doing that it just doesn't occur to them to do it any other way. In response, Wil Wilkinson said : Naturally, Matt is implying that there is some other way to do it. But, no. The Republicans are right; that's just how government works. The problem with the Republicans is that they, being invested with power, are insufferably opportunistic hypocrites. They're not uniquely prone to cronyism. They're just prone to being in power, which is the enabling condition for the cronyism to which all political types aspire. Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't Clinton's nomination of the incredibly qualified James Lee Witt totally blow Wil's theory to shreds? Because considering the decidedly non-constant nature of the dynamic Wil describes, this strikes me as but another chapter of "Republicans who ideologically...
  • Confused

    Just fyi, about an hour ago, Britney Spears gave birth about 5 blocks away from me. I'm really not sure how to feel about that.
  • Lap Dances

    While I'm talking about N+1 , this critical analysis of lap dances and strip clubs they published is one of my favorite articles of all time. And I read a lot of articles. It's well-written, blisteringly intelligent, and almost annoyingly perceptive. What is being sold in the showroom of Sapphire is not a car but … what exactly? Sexual arousal? That can be had for far less with a few clicks of the remote back at the hotel. What your $20 gets you is, yes, the closer approximation of sex, the physical presence of the woman, but also, perhaps more crucially, her undivided attention. The lap dance occupies a middle ground between pornography and prostitution, and its affinity with the second lies in the fact that a kind of relationship is created, however brief and pathetic. When one of my friends was in the midst of a dance, a few feet from me, I sometimes felt I should turn away, that watching had become an indecent intrusion. I've been remiss not linking to it before -- an oversight...
  • Don't Fear the Blogs

    AO Scott, in his otherwise-impressive piece on The Believer and N+1 , offers a fairly bizarre attack, or at least characterization, of blogs: At a time when older forms of media are supposedly being swallowed up by newer ones, the impulse to start the kind of magazine Partisan Review was in the late 1930's or The Paris Review was in the 50's might look contrarian, even reactionary. If you are an overeducated (or at least a semi-overeducated) youngish person with a sleep disorder and a surfeit of opinions, the thing to do, after all, is to start a blog. There are no printing costs, no mailing lists, and the medium offers instant membership in a welcoming herd of independent minds who will put you in their links columns if you put them in yours. Blogs embody and perpetuate a discourse based on speed, topicality, cleverness and contention - all qualities very much ascendant in American media culture these days. To start a little magazine,, at least in part, to lodge a protest...
  • No Good Options

    A suicide bomber detonated himself in a crowd of Shiites today, shredding more 80 people and wounding 150 others. Elsewhere, gunmen dragged 17 people out of their homes in Taji, killing them on their stoops. All this on top a few mortar blasts, some shootings, carjackings ending in gunshot deaths, and all the rest of the Hobbesian chaos "freedom" has brought. We can't win if we can't stop this. And we can't, it seems, stop this. So long as our forces fail to secure the country, we will be failed occupiers, not heralds of civic utopia. And so long as we can't secure this country, the men and woman within it will want us out, if for no other reason than because a change might, might calm the random killings. And even if our absence didn't bring peace in its vacuum, the shiites, freed from our direction, could launch war against the Sunnis, a response that'd at least erase the feeling of powerlessness in the face of constant assaults. And so President Talabani, while grinning and...
  • Yes, I Can

    Prof. Bainbridge has an interesting thought experiment for you: Can you imagine what it'll be like when a big-time blawgger like Reynolds, Althouse, or any of the Volokh Conspirators get nominated? Why yes, yes I can: