• 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.
  • Pronunciation

    How do you pronounce "Iraq"? Specifically, how do you pronounce the last syllable? Is it "Rack" or something closer to "Rock"? (If you pronounce the vowel like the a in "father", I'll put you on the "Rock" team -- I think that's closer to the short "o" than to the short "a".) George W. Bush, as we know, says "Rack." I was just thinking that people used to pronounce it differently before he became President. Sure enough, Bill Clinton said "Rock." Linguist Geoff Nunberg avers that "Rock" is slightly closer to the correct pronunciation (he says it's rawq). My sense is that "Rack" is much more common in the media today, though I only rarely watch TV, so I could be wrong. I'm curious to see how this transition took place. It'd be really interesting if the Fox News people switched their pronunciation to cover Bush, and the rest of the media followed suit. -- Neil the Ethical Werewolf
  • Lambert!

    Australian computer scientist Tim Lambert is one of the more underrated bloggers I know of. He does a lot of fairly technical work, chasing down statistical mistakes made by sloppy or devious right-wing hack scientists. One of the neatest cases was when he caught some global warming deniers plugging in angle measurements in degrees when their software demanded radians , thereby rendering enormous amounts of their data invalid. It's about a year old, but it's still a neat story to look at if you didn't see it when it came out. The more amusing story is about how he helped to catch gun control opponent John Lott using "Mary Rosh" and other pseudonyms to promote his fraudulent work over the internet. -- Neil the Ethical Werewolf
  • Wheel of Regime Change

    Reading recent Matt Yglesias posts on Tapped, I wonder if there's a Wheel of Regime Change located in the basement of some right-wing think tank. The game is to spin it and write an article about how we should invade the country whose name comes up. (Occasionally a writer spins it too many times , and has to write about all the countries.) While this may be fun, it is not the way to generate good advice on foreign policy. Apparently, some basic points about the way invasions go are being widely missed. When you invade a country and remove the head bad guy, that doesn't mean you win. You just create a power vacuum which every other random thuglord in the country wants to fill. Al-Qaeda's influence rises, as they generally aren't looked on well by stable governments anywhere, and they grow unchecked in times of chaos. You also have to tangle with nationalistic/religious types who are suspicious of your motives and don't like being invaded. ( Robert Pape , who knows more about suicide...
  • Who is Alberto Gonzales?

    Scott points out that we have no reason for thinking he's a moderate. Mark smells a plot to dress him up in a false reputation for moderation and sneak him through the Senate. Julie says that he's a Bush henchman first and anything else second, which I completely agree with, and it's this point that interests me the most. Sure, for the next 3.5 years, he'll do Bush's bidding on the Supreme Court. But he'll be 53 when Bush retires, and being a Supreme Court Justice isn't exactly asbestos removal. What happens to the servant when he spends decades without his master? I have no idea. One can see his slipshod work on Texas death penalty cases not as an expression of any pro-death-penalty principle, but as an attempt to make a politically popular position more comfy for Bush. His work on torture strikes me pretty much the same way. On a related note -- I suppose it's a sign of good taste that the media doesn't write too much about the age and health status of SCOTUS candidates. These...
  • Dilemma of the Nice Guy

    After seeing Lindsay , Matt, and Scott discuss the issue, I'm convinced that the central dilemma faced by nice guys has been missed. This constitutes a blogospheric emergency of such importance that I must use my position as Ezra's guestblogger to make the problem clear. It's a necessary condition for being a nice guy that you apply high standards to your behavior with women. You deny yourself recourse to strategies that don't meet these standards. Minimally, you don't hit on girls impolitely or in inappropriate contexts, and you don't try to pressure girls into doing things that they might not want to do. You make sure they have an easy way to say no if they're not really interested -- strategies that don't leave the other person an out are rejected. Further, as Lindsay points out, "nice guys don't feel compelled to tell you how nice they are." Genuine nice guys will be sensitized to the immodesty of boasting about their niceness, and to the subtle ickiness of many other behaviors,...
  • Prado Optimality

    Thanks to Ezra for inviting my wolfy self back for another guestblogging run! About a month ago, Ezra made us aware of the good folks pushing Ed Prado for Supreme Court. Ezra saw the movement as a bit naive -- Bush isn't looking for independent, fair-minded consensus candidates in the Prado mold. He wants to drive wedges and pay off special interest groups that support him. I actually think that the Draft Prado movement -- and other movements to get the media to include moderate candidates in their "who replaces O'Connor?" stories are a big help. Republicans must not be allowed to define the political spectrum so that Alberto Gonzalez is a liberal, Luttig is a moderate, and only Janice Rogers Brown counts as a conservative. Putting genuine moderates on the map and calling them moderates is a good way to do this. It's something that I wish we could do more in other political contexts, but it works especially well here. Unlike most policy issues, Republicans can't respond to our...