Archive

  • With Friends Like These...

    Amy Sullivan's article on why Hillary shouldn't be our nominee in 08 is, well, confusing. It's not just that she was compelled to write a "con" argument years before the primaries, but that the one she came up with is so conditional and, at times, self-contradictory. It's got four parts, and I want to quickly look at them in order: • No Such Thing as Undecided: This bit is Sullivan's read of the poll numbers, and it's the weakest of the article. First, she poo-poo's Hillary's early lead among the Democrats, noting that much of it is name recognition. Surely true. But John Kerry and John Edwards are something more than pings on a radar screen, even if they lack the stature of Mrs. Clinton. And while I remember Lieberman's stubborn lead in the polls till far into the primaries, the name recognition of a little-loved moderate in a field of unknowns means substantially less than the numbers of a much-loved party icon being chosen above a variety of other big names. Sullivan also assails...
  • Get Off The Bench

    Scott Lemieux's grabbed onto one of my favorite hobby horses, the total idiocy of lifetime appointments to the Supreme Court. The whole thing is just a maze of perverse incentives: appoint the young rather than the old (and maybe more experienced), have Supreme Court justices hang on until like-minded Administrations enter office and can appoint ideologically acceptable replacements, have them hang on well into senility because the job is good and it gives them pleasure, etc. Moreover, if we had, say, a 12-year time limit, there wouldn't be these weeks of feverish anticipation as we hope, plan, and strategize for retirements that may or may not come. Instead, we'd know when most Justices were going to step down. the White House could be ready with a nominee, and so forth. It'd be much more orderly, in addition to more democratic, as enhanced turnover will mean Justices more sensitive to contemporary public opinion. Better yet, the occasional extremist elevated to the Court wouldn't be...
  • Airplane Reading

    Oren, despite hating the first half, loved the latter part of Nick Hornby's High Fidelity. I haven't read it, but I did pick up Hornby's About a Boy for the plane ride yesterday and loved it. When 300 pages fly by in about 2.5 hours, you know you've been grabbed. I've long left easy fiction simply because the habit was too costly (Hornby cost me $5 per hour of enjoyment), but with Amazon used, that's no longer so much of a consideration. And I do need to get out of this masochistic reading phase, where it either needs to be nonfiction or the sort of fiction that supposed to build character and open horizons. Enjoyment...not...bad. Speaking of serious fiction though, I'm just about through Michael Shaara's novel of Gettysburg, Killer Angels . Reading it, you understand why the South is able venerate this war, why they worship those who fought it. It was a bad cause, but it managed to attract some impressive men. True, the North won, but they won ugly. And while the South lost, they did...
  • Thinking About, Speaking About, Acting On Terror

    Sherle Schwenniger's expansive article on a foreign policy for the Democrats is certainly the best thing I've read in the genre. I'll be saying a lot about it in the next few days (there is, unfortunately for all of you, lots to be said), but today let's do terrorism. With regard to the Middle East in general, we must extract ourselves from what could escalate into what many Arabs see as a civilizational war with the Islamic world. This, however, does not mean disengaging, but rather repositioning the United States to be less of an overbearing dominant power. Our strategy toward Islamic jihadism ought to consist of lowering America's profile in the region and patiently containing bin Ladenism as it slowly loses its allure by being denied the foreign imperial enemy it needs in order to succeed. And the best way to lower our profile, without sacrificing any legitimate American interests, is to internationalize as much as possible US policy toward the Middle East--to reduce America's...
  • Nice Guys Finish Last/First/Middle

    So you know that annoying guy who elbows into the circle as the conversation winds down and excitedly demands to know what you're talking about? That's me. And I've got an opinion on it, too. You're talking about nice guys , aren't you? As previously noted, till 16 I was a large, large kid. And, as so many of us heavy ones are, I was also a nice guy. Unlike all the bastards who got girls, I knew I'd treat them to flowers and chocolate, candy and consideration. Didn't help much. But, again following stereotype, I latched onto a hot friend and became her good buddy. As happens, I developed a huge crush on her. As happens, it was not reciprocated. As happens, I was crushed. Best thing that ever happened to me. It's why I lost my weight. After weight loss, though, I realized I still didn't know how to talk to girls, what to do when they approached me, etc. I had kinda thrown myself into the deep end. So I studied it. I watched who had sexual success and who didn't, I tried to find common...
  • Wrong Audience

    RNC Chair Ken Mehlman apparently went before the NAACP yesterday to apologize for Nixon's Southern Strategy. Republicans, he said, were wrong to use race as a wedge. Phony. When Mehlman goes before Southern whites and says it was wrong to use race as a wedge issue, then I'll buy his sincerity. The test here isn't whether he can pander to those he offended, but whether he can confront those who flocked to the offense. Apologizing for embezzlement while living off the cash is not the most powerful of moral statements.
  • Home Sweet Home

    I've made it. Though Delta lost my bag on the way there and made me miss my connection on the way back, I nevertheless pulled a Homeward Bound and fought through the hardship. The conference was great: watch Clinton's speech here , and stay tuned for my panel to pop up on the same page. Moreover, as I stood in line to board my flight back, I saw Karen Hughes chatting with someone. "Huh," I chuckled, "only in DC". At which point I promptly got on the plane, took my seat, turned around, turned around again, turned a third time, and finally greeted John Lewis. Huge thanks, of course, to Neil, who did a bang-up job on the site and gave me the peace of mind needed to focus on the conference. He's the man and you should read him at his place .
  • Returning Islam to Greatness

    As my mother was frying up the karela today, she mentioned that the London bombers all appear to be British men of Pakistani origin. One of them, as she said, had an eight-month-old child. Another, who killed seven people, came from a family that owned a fish-and-chip shop. A third, who killed thirteen people, told his parents that he was going to London to attend a religious studies seminar. When they couldn't contact him after the bombings, they called police to report him missing. There's a tendency to see our current struggles against terrorism as part of some great clash of civilizations between Islam and the West, in which two civilizations go in and only one will come out alive. It's manifest, explicitly or implicitly, in almost everything Tacitus writes -- Perhaps the villains' expectation is that the Briton will quail as the Spaniard, reacting to massacre with headlong flight from foreign fields. I think not. About me, I see older Scots with a steely flint in their eyes. The...
  • Good Work Harry

    In the wake of the Rove scandal, Senate Democrats are introducing a bill to deny security clearances to officials who blow the cover of secret agents. This shouldn't be an especially controversial issue, and I'm glad to see our people doing things that call the Republicans on compromising national security for political gain. -- Neil the Ethical Werewolf
  • The Cooper and the Rove

    Hey folks. Conference going well, plane home in a few hours, very tired. Many thanks to Neil, who's been doing a bang-up job on the site. I'll be back tomorrow morn. But here's a piece I wrote on the way here but haven't been able to publish: enjoy.

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