SPEAKING OF... [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
...the photos of the week: here and here and here and here .
Posted at 09:13 PM
DON'T WORRY, BE HAPPY [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
Tony Blair suggests we've found more than Iraq than is being publicized.
Posted at 09:08 PM
WAHHABI WATCH [Andrew Stuttaford]
From this week’s Economist:
“Not even Cambodia’s obscure Muslim community has escaped the zealots’ attention. The Cambodian Islamic Development Council, a Muslim NGO, estimates that at least 10% of local Muslims now follow the puritanical Wahhabi sect, thanks to aggressive Saudi Arabian proselytizing. On May 28th, Cambodian authorities charged an Egyptian and two Thais with plotting terrorist attacks in Phnom Penh for Jamaah Islamiah.”
The Saudis, again.
Posted at 07:53 PM
TIMOTHY GARTON ASH [Andrew Stuttaford]
Ramesh, that's a disappointing piece by Timothy Garton Ash, but no surprise. He's been beating the EU drum for a while now. Credit where's credit's due, however. Back in the 1980s Garton Ash was one of the good - indeed, great - guys over Eastern Europe. His writings from that era are still well worth reading.
Posted at 07:52 PM
MCLITIGATION [Andrew Stuttaford]
Kathryn, Raspelli is wrong, but it’s really, really, dumb of McDonalds to sue the guy.
Posted at 07:51 PM
COMEDIES OF THE 1980S [Andrew Stuttaford]
There’s more than a touch of High Fidelity about all this list making, but if we are on the subject of great 1980s comedies, how about Roxanne (remember the scene in a bar where Steve Martin lets fly with the insults?), Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (an essential Reagan-era text), Zelig , Heathers, Trading Places and, of course, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure?
And the 1990s? They didn't do so badly. Why no mention of The Mask, Buffy the Vampire Slayer (the movie), Flirting with Disaster, The Full Monty, Clueless, Scream, To Die For, Manhattan Murder Mystery, Ed Wood, Mars Attacks and that strangely unsung conservative classic Blast from the Past?
Movie humor is alive and well. What's more, each of those decades can boast one TV comedy that will live on for years - Cheers in the 1980s and, of course, Seinfeld in the 1990s. Simpsons viewers please contact Jonah.
Finally, here’s a tip from 1941 – try a Hellzapoppin’ : quite amazing – and unfairly neglected.
Posted at 07:50 PM
COMEDIES (1) [Andrew Stuttaford]
Jonah, I’m disappointed that Beavis and Butthead Do America didn’t ‘make’ your 1990s list.
Huh huh huh huh…
It’s quite funny – in its own way…
Posted at 07:49 PM
RAVE ON [Andrew Stuttaford]
Or not. Joe Biden has always been something of an idiot. Now we know that he’s a dangerous idiot. Here’s Jacob Sullum on Biden’s latest legislative contribution to this country.
“For years volunteer groups like DanceSafe have been passing out fliers at raves and night clubs with advice on how to avoid dangerous overheating — drink water, take frequent breaks, abstain from alcohol (which compounds dehydration). Event sponsors have helped by providing bottles of water and ventilated "chill out" rooms, measures intended not to encourage drug use but to reduce drug-related harm. Under the new law, however, such sensible precautions could be seen as evidence that the host or owner knew guests would be using drugs, exposing him to $250,000 or more in civil penalties, a criminal fine of up to $500,000, and a prison sentence of up to 20 years.”
Say it ain’t so, Joe.
Posted at 12:12 PM
THE SWEEPINGS OF THE ABBATOIR FLOOR [Andrew Stuttaford]
In France, apparently, there’s not much discussion over Diamond Giscard’s proposed EU ‘constitution’. Why? Well according to my ‘France guy’ (you know who you are) the French have now decided that it’s not going to go through, so further debate is just a waste of time. Encore du vin, SVP.
That’s only a little bit less optimistic than the Maginot Line, I fear.
In more realistic Britain, the debate continues, much of it focused on the proposed Article 10 (EU law “shall have primacy over the law of the member states”). In a sense (and that’s an important qualifier) this has been true since the UK joined the EEC (as it then was) in 1973, but this was not something that was widely understood by the public at large. A positive side effect of the current controversy is that this is now beginning to change.
The Economist takes up the story:
“In Downing Street they are uncomfortably aware that polls suggest that only 10% of the British people accept the proposition that EU law should override British law. It is rather as if, having happily consumed factory-made sausages for 30 years, consumers are now being asked to read the ingredients on the side of the packet and consider carefully if they want to keep reconstituted udders.”
My compromise? Keep the sausages and junk the primacy of EU law within the UK except as an explicit (and unilaterally revocable) derogation of British parliamentary authority.
Posted at 12:10 PM
KAZIMIR MALEVICH [Andrew Stuttaford]
This week’s New Yorker includes an interesting – and, in one respect, somewhat unusual – review of a new show at the Guggenheim featuring the work of Kazimir Malevich, the father, if that’s the term, of suprematism.
Normally the story of the early 20th Century Russian avant-garde is told as a fairly simple morality tale (I wrote on a related topic here). These artists were, we are told, the heralds of a new world, who found themselves allied with Lenin in a brave, doomed, attempt to build Utopia. Ultimately, the legend goes, the revolution was betrayed by Stalin. With the ideals and the idealists of 1917 dead or dispersed, the free spirits of the avant-garde found that they were no longer acceptable to the regime. And it wasn’t only their art that was in danger of annihilation. Dull socialist realism (all those farm workers, factories and Red Army men) replaced innovation, and the squares, blocks and jagged montages of those adventurous early years were consigned to the scrap heap, final proof that the once bright Soviet dawn had turned dark.
The truth, of course, is very different. Stalin didn’t betray Lenin’s legacy, he enshrined it, enforced it and enabled it to endure. And as for those freethinking artists? Well, they were content enough to collaborate with communism amid the corpses and jailhouses of the early Soviet state, and they were also quite prepared to shut out those artists who did not conform with the ‘progressive’ notions of the revolutionary era.
Malevich was a genius, but the fact of that genius should not be allowed to obscure his role as a propagandist for, and accomplice in, a system that was barbaric from the beginning. He was no more “just an artist,” than Leni Riefenstahl “was just a photographer”. The New Yorker’s reviewer (Peter Schjeldahl) at least begins to touch on the awkwardness presented by the (all too often ignored) historical record:
“Artists who transformed all given modes of visual art …could hardly avoid hubris. They had an unfortunate habit of scheming against one another, as well as against any artists whom they deemed outmoded….”
And then here:
“The Revolution was dining on its children, just slowly enough to make them, in desperation, compromise their principles one by one.”
It’s a start, but it still lets Malevich off too lightly – as he himself would well have understood. For me, his finest work dates from the late 1920s (and is not, alas, featured in the Guggenheim show). A native of Kiev, Malevich knew about the havoc that was descending on the Ukranian countryside. His response was oblique, in code as, almost certainly, it had to be. He painted a series of images of peasants. So far, so Soviet, you might think, but look more closely. Beneath the bright colors there is a sense of unease or something even worse. The images themselves are faceless, haunting. These are portraits of the doomed, anonymous, archaic, finished, victims of a system that Malevich had once served all too well.
Posted at 12:02 PM
MALAYSIA [Andrew Stuttaford]
Some Muslims are, however, fighting back against the zealots.
Encouragingly, the same piece in the Economist records how "Sisters in Islam, a Muslim women's organization, is leading a campaign against two Malaysian state governments' plans to adopt full-blown Islamic law."
Posted at 12:01 PM
FEDERAL OR NOT? [Andrew Stuttaford]
Tony Blair has been making great play out of the fact that the word ‘federal’ has been removed from the latest draft of the proposed EU 'constitution'. That’s an almost meaningless gesture. Much more important is the fact that the constitution retains the old, lethal and legal, goal of ‘ever closer unity’. When Britain first joined the EEC, its citizens were told that those three words were just so much Continental drivel. Nothing could have been further from the truth. Those three little words have been some of the most powerful engines of federalization – they need to go.
Posted at 12:01 PM
Friday, May 30, 2003
I AM A FOOL [Jonah Goldberg]
For not mentioning Rushmore. One of my favorite movies.
Posted at 08:13 PM
BEST MOVIE [Dave Kopel]
Among the best comedies of the 1980s: Fast Times at Ridgemont High.
Posted at 05:52 PM
DEFAMING BURGERS [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
Andrew, this is your kind of story: slow food vs. Mickey Dees.
Posted at 05:38 PM
THE EAGLE HAS LANDED [John Derbyshire]
That is, the Derb has landed, in L.A. They are putting me up in yet another crack house. I had forgotten the key thing about Convention Centers: like bus stations, they are always located in the seediest part of town. Today's math puzzle: the solution is two pounds. It rests on the fact that any square with an odd number of tens must have a 6 in the units column. I have a wonderful proof of this, but unfortunately this margin is too small to contain it....
Posted at 04:58 PM
ASHES TO EUROS [Ramesh Ponnuru]
He doesn't commit himself in this piece, but I gather that Timothy Garton Ash wants the U.S. to continue to encourage European integration, or at least not to get in its way, and for the new unified European superpower to work in "partnership" with rather than "opposition" to the United States. This strikes me as a pipe dream. Both the logic of the newly-unified EU's position as a superpower and of its nature would push in an anti-American direction; the forces within Europe that seek partnership would be submerged. I can see how someone could make the case for a Euro-superpower as a counterweight and restraint on the United States, although I would not agree with that case. But to make the case for a Euro-superpower as a way of strengthening the institutional strength of the West, as Ash does, seems quixotic.
Posted at 04:56 PM
UNBORN VICTIMS OF VIOLENCE [Ramesh Ponnuru]
If you look here for the "Laci Peterson and the Politics of Abortion" item--that's a somewhat loaded title, btw--you'll hear Gloria Feldt of Planned Parenthood repeatedly dodge the question whether there were one or two victims before finally saying that there was only one.
Posted at 04:38 PM
POLLUTING SPIRITS [Jonathan H. Adler]
When Bourbon is made, ethanol vapor is released. This is traditionally known as the angels' share, but under clean air laws it's also known as pollution. As the FT reports this almost led to stringent environmental regulation of bourbon makers in Louisville, Kentucky -- regulation that could have driven bourbon making from Bourbon County. For we bourbon drinkers, this was a close call.
Posted at 04:26 PM
BILL O'REILLY, JACOB SULLUM, VIRGINIA POSTREL [Ramesh Ponnuru]
Two of my favorite people.
Posted at 04:23 PM
GREENS V. MYERS [Jonathan H. Adler]
The Caspar Star-Tribune reports that greens are seeing red over President Bush's nomination of William G. Myers III to a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Myers currently serves as solicitor for the Department of the Interior.
Posted at 04:20 PM
OH... [Jonah Goldberg]
I have to confess that I laughed hysterically hard at "Jackass: The Movie" and very, very hard at most of "Old School."
Posted at 03:59 PM
HE GETS IT [Jonah Goldberg]
From a reader (by the way, I love local hero):
Jonah: Contra to Andrew Stuttaford, I found Groundhog Day (one of my favorite movies) to be nearly joyous. Recall the scene early on in which Murray is talking to two semi-drunks and he asks them what would they think of having to exist by doing the exact same thing, day after day, with no change, and one of them replies "That sorta sums up my life..." But then, much later in the film, Murray is resigned to his lot and is reading a book (he's almost surrounded by books) and hears some piano music on the radio - and this expression comes over his face of complete discovery. Everything is open to him in terms of internal human potential. He immerses himself in piano lessons, in reading serious books. He becomes a better person - not simply more knowledgeable and sophisticated. He makes the best of the hand he's been dealt. He goes through a nearly complete cycle of understanding life: confusion, having fun with it, despair, resignation, fulfillment. And it's damned funny. And two other pretty decent comedies in the 80s were LA Story and Local Hero - and please, no groans because the latter is supposedly one of Al Gore's faves. It's brilliant, and most liberals simply don't understand what's going on in it, and I'd wager that Algore missed the point as well.
Posted at 03:57 PM
SPEECH SOFTWARE [Jonah Goldberg]
Posted at 03:45 PM
RAISING ARIZONA [Jonah Goldberg]
Must be on any list of funniest films of the 1980s. (Sorry I've gotten a bunch of email who think I endorse that guy's list as authoratative so I'm just clearing the air on my own preferences).
Posted at 03:40 PM
OFFICE SPACE [Jonah Goldberg]
A movie that must be included on any list of the funniest films of the 1990s.
Posted at 03:38 PM
PRESS CORPS VS. SPELLERS [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
A friend who happened to be at the Scripps-Howard Spelling paints the ugly scene there this week:
The annual ritual is hated by Washington reporters. While some correspondents like the Bee as a nice break from covering congressional hearings or federal agencies, others want the local moppets they're covering to either win the championship and make big news, or get knocked out as early as possible. On the Metro Wednesday, two reporters were lamenting their assignment. "I hated rooting against the little twerp, but there was no way I was spending the whole day there." His buddy replied, "Everyone in that room was rooting for the little kids--except the press corps.”
Posted at 03:13 PM
TED HEATH [Andrew Stuttaford]
Former Tory Prime Minister Ted Heath (his time in office ended in ignominy in 1974) is warning that a British rejection of the Euro at this stage would be “the first of a series of slippery steps that would allow anti-Europeans to push Britain towards the exit door from the EU.”
Well, Heath, the man who took the UK into what was then the EEC (or ‘Common Market’ as we Brits used then, hopefully – and naively - to call it) back in 1973 knows a thing or two about ‘slippery slopes’. At that time (and in a subsequent referendum in 1975), British voters were repeatedly assured that the European project only involved a more extensive form of free trade zone. Since then, the EEC (European Economic ‘Community’) became the EC (European Community) and now, most poisonously, the EU. Those are quite some steps. The most slippery thing about them? The politicians who pushed the UK down them.
Starting with Ted Heath.
Posted at 01:38 PM
GROUNDHOG DAY [Andrew Stuttaford]
Jonah, Groundhog Day? Yes, it’s a wonderful (and very clever) movie – but oddly melancholy, I always think. While on the topic of movies, there’s no need for you to go and see the (original) Japanese Ring, by the way. It’s good enough (I saw it earlier this week along with a dreary prequel called Ring O) and the idea behind it is truly spooky, but, contrary to what some people say, it’s no more frightening than the American remake. Best movie I've seen recently? 25th Hour. Brilliant and astonishing – and as bleak as anything that Swift could have dreamed up.
Posted at 01:33 PM
DR PEPPER WATCH [Andrew Stuttaford]
A Fresca drinking (he also likes Diet Dr Pepper despite, he says, being “decently educated”) reader e-mails this tale of a hostage drama (which, happily, ended safely):
Note this detail:
“The gunman released the hostages after officers delivered a six-pack of Dr Pepper to him, using a long stick to pass the soda through a door.”
The police, of course, were not afraid of the gunman, who (rather prosaically) had “a beef with the postal service.” It must have been the demon Dr Pepper that they didn’t want to touch…
Posted at 01:31 PM
LIQUOR SALES ON SUNDAY [Andrew Stuttaford]
Kathryn, I read that Journal piece with interest (and delight that the law has been changed), but it’s difficult to think that the real issue here is really Sabbatarianism – if it was, the law would have covered far more than liquor stores. The subtext here is, as so often, taboos about alcohol consumption.
In England, strangely, there were until, I think, quite recently extremely onerous, and in their effect somewhat bizarre, restrictions on Sunday trading. One example? Pornography could be sold on a Sunday, but Bibles could not.
Posted at 01:26 PM
TEXAS PAPER DROPS MAUREEN DOWD [Emmy Chang]
In the wake of her misrepresentation of Bush's remarks in a recent speech, the Lufkin Daily News has suspended publication of Dowd's syndicated column.
"Dowd quietly "corrected" herself by including the full quote in a subsequent column that appeared in The Lufkin Daily News on Thursday. That's not good enough, and until Dowd, and her newspaper, fully account for her infraction, her column will not appear on this page.
Posted at 01:16 PM
MORE ON TRAINSPOTTING [Andrew Stuttaford]
A correspondent who works in the railroad industry writes with this insight about 'railfans':
“...we members of the railroad industry call them, "foamers", as in they foam at the mouth at the mere mention of trains. Many of them work for the railroad as well. I know one foamer who worked in our... group, and thus lived and breathed railroad operations all day every day, then took a vacation to go camping next to our tracks and watch trains go by for a week...
As a Corner reader, my correspondent is, of course, a tolerant sort:
“I personally can't understand their fascination, but different strokes for different folks, I guess.”
And then adds this mysterious comment:
“I'm sure many of them would recoil in horror at what I do in my free time.”
Posted at 01:13 PM
WATER COOLER TOPIC [Jonah Goldberg]
Let's just call today Funny Movie Friday. From a reader:
Posted at 12:53 PM
"RIGHTS FATIGUE" [Stanley Kurtz]
What a dead on piece by Daniel Henninger on Annika Sorenstam and “rights fatigue.” My way of explaining this is the claim that participating in a civil rights struggle has become the de facto religion of the secular left. The left simply has to make a civil rights mountain out of some silly little molehill. Without taking part in an heroic struggle for civil rights, life for our secular elites seems selfish and shallow. This is what gives all those folks at The New York Times their sense of mission.
Posted at 12:22 PM
GROUNDHOG DAY [Jonah Goldberg]
I watched it again last night. I may have seen it more times than Bill Murray repeated GHD. It got me thinking. I think it may be one of the best, most intelligent and deeply layered films of the last decade. I won't go out on the rhetorical limb the way Jonathan Last did when he said Buffy the Vampire Slayer "is the best show in the history of television." But I do think there is so much more going in Groundhog Day than most people realize. There's theology, metaphysics, psychology and most of it is remarkably understated and remarkably funny. No one ever mentions anything like Nietzsche's doctrine of the eternal return, or even explains why Murray comes so close to bedding Andie McDowell and then fails over and over again because he can't fake his sincerity. The use of irony in the second snowman scene is brilliant. And, let's face facts, there are few funnier lines in the history of cinema than (I'm quoting from memory): "This is one of those times where television really fails to capture the true excitement of a large squirrel predicting the weather."
Anyway, just one layman's opinion.
Posted at 12:12 PM
READ THIS [Stanley Kurtz]
In “The Paradox of Conservative Bioethics,” Yuval Levin has put his finger on the trouble with what I do. Levin understands what embarrasses and frightens me about my work (though it’s also what makes me proud). It isn’t just me. Levin has figured out why the unraveling of so many of our cultural taboos has presented conservatives with an almost impossible challenge. By rationally defending our previously taken for granted understandings, we undermine the mysteries we seek to defend. And yet we have no choice. Levin’s piece is crystal clear and totally accessible theory. Yet there’s something beautiful about it as well. I think Levin’s piece touches on an intuition that was rumbling under our Corner dispute about theory the other day. Theory is necessary but dangerous. Good theory understands this about itself. Ultimately, theory needs poetry–inside of itself, and in addition to itself. Levin understands this, and will help you understand it too. One more thing. There will be those so far outside our system of cultural taboos that they will find it hard to understand–or feel–the difficulty that Levin is pressing on. But these folks have their own taboos. The new taboos protect a romanticization of “progress.” I am decidedly enjoying myself as I plow through the premier issue of The New Atlantis.
Posted at 12:09 PM
BUYING PEACE? [Jonah Goldberg]
I don't know anything about the Lebanon Wire or the Daily Star, but this report that the US may be paying Syria half a billion to dismantle Hebollah and get out of Lebanon is pretty interesting if true.
Posted at 11:52 AM
GOOD NEWS FROM THE ACADEMY [Stanley Kurtz]
Great news. Some time ago I posted on The Corner about efforts by University of California president Richard Atkinson (the same fellow who got the College Board to gut the SAT) to revise the University of California’s code of academic freedom. Atkinson’s goal was to eliminate the provisions that insure student freedom from political pressure by professors. It was predicted that Atkinson’s revision would easily sail through the university’s Academic Senate. But thanks in great part to e-mail protests from Corner readers, and above all to the tireless campaign of Luann Wright, the founder of NoIndoctrination.org, the proposal was sent back for a review that will probably take a year. There may still be a serious fight ahead, but this is definitely a defeat for campus political correctness.
For accounts of the battle over the University of California code of academic freedom, go here. http://noindoctrination.org/index.shtml For an exchange between Luann Wright and a U.C. administrator stung by NRO e-mails, go here. http://noindoctrination.org/uc_update.shtml Luann Wright created NoIndoctrination.org after her son was subjected to egregious political bias in his classes at the University of California, San Diego. Wright’s site is a remarkable and successful example of one courageous parent fighting back against a corrupt university system–and winning. To read more about the site and about Luann Wright’s battle, see my piece, “Students Fight Back.”
The success of NoIndoctrination.org is getting expensive. Wright is receiving a lot of web traffic now, especially as a result of publicity over the battle on the academic freedom statement. Wright has to upgrade her server capabilities, pay for non-profit insurance, research material, advertising, and a whole lot of stuff that a private individual cannot easily afford. To make a tax deductible contribution to NoIndoctrination.org, click here. And thanks again to Corner readers for the protest e-mails that won this fight.
Posted at 11:44 AM
BY THE WAY... [Jonah Goldberg]
If you hated my three-parter on Neocons, Ramesh has the cover story on the same subject. He makes the case that there's nothing particularly "neo" to Bush's foreign policy in the first place. It's really excellent so far. I'm about halfway through.
Posted at 11:44 AM
NYT [Jonah Goldberg]
The committee investigating problems at the Times is falling apart because it's become to aggressive.
Posted at 11:42 AM
OH, AND ONE LAST POINT [Jonah Goldberg]
and then I'll be done with the baby stuff. It was my mom who posted the picture of Lucy and I linked to it under the header: "SHE COULDN'T BE STOPPED." If you think Momma G was making some sort of statement about my hereosexuality rather than the fact that she's darn proud of the critter -- and would be if I played for the other team -- you don't know what makes her tick. It's a multiple bank shot to interpret it any other way.
Posted at 11:35 AM
WORD ON THE STREET [Rod Dreher]
People in St. Francisville, home of serial killer suspect Derrick Todd Lee, are buzzing over a possible connection between Lee and the unsolved murder of Joyce Taylor, a popular gym instructor at the local high school. Taylor, whom I knew and was quite fond of, was murdered in her north Baton Rouge home years ago -- I'm not sure of the precise date, but it was the late 1980s or early 1990s, I think. The case was never solved. The word is that Taylor was close to Lee when he was a student at West Feliciana High School, which wouldn't have been surprising because she was friendly to all students, and well-liked. If Lee did kill Taylor, that would put his career as a serial killer -- assuming the charges against him in the more recent cases are proven -- beginning much earlier than anyone now suspects. I imagine investigators all over south Louisiana are re-opening old unsolved murder files right now.
Posted at 11:32 AM
I FORGOT [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
TO remind Jonah I'd be out. :-) Career Day at my high school (the greatest high school in the world, by the way--Dominican Academy). Told them what I do during the day--I learned a lot about my job. (And was spreading the good NRO/NR word to the next generation!) Forgot to mention Star Trek.
Posted at 11:25 AM
BABY FALLOUT [Jonah Goldberg]
From a reader:
Jonah - As a gay man that has been in a committed relationship for 13 years (and who does not generally "flaunt" it), I think Andrew Sullivan's comments re: babies are a bit off base. Babies, and their discussion, tend not to elicit controversy in any society or culture (except among some left-wing malcontents that decry "yuppie culture", babystrollers on the Upper West Side, etc.). Homosexuality obviously can elicit controversy (not that it always does), even in Western society, so discretion tends to be a pretty good course of action. For example, as an attorney in a large NYC law firm, I think most people are "cool" (for lack of a better term) with who I am and are not put off if I bring my partner to firm events. However, I don't expect (and wouldn't want) those who might not be OK with homosexuality generally to be comfortable with me bringing it up as an explicit topic of conversation at every opportunity. I'd like to think that in a civil society, people can generally figure out how to get along (as contemporary philosopher Rodney King once said) without being obnoxious or pedantic - but that's just me. Keep up the good fight - [Name withheld]
And, from another reader:
Jonah, You surprise me here. Sure, you have been very consistent in your defense of Andrew and a not-at-all troubling live-and-let-live philosophy (don't mean to stir up any trouble with that word "philosophy") in re: gay rights, but I am confounded at how you (not to mention Andrew) would create some sort of a moral/intellectual equivalence here. When a proud daddy shows off a picture of his first born it is a stretch beyond all reason to suggest that he is really saying, "Look, I had wild sex with you-know-who and here's the proof!" Frankly, I think it was in poor taste on Andrew's part to even make the suggestion - and I'm a fan of his.
Posted at 11:22 AM
GOOD POINT [Jonah Goldberg]
A reader -- from Hillsdale no less -- writes:
Posted at 11:09 AM
MY BABY, MY ORIENTATION [Jonah Goldberg]
Giving new freight to the phrase "the personal is political," Andrew Sullivan writes:
"I'm delighted that Jonah Goldberg and his wife, Jessica Gavora, have such a cute kid who's the spitting image of her dad. I'm delighted that many NRO readers are equally chuffed. But next time I mention my boyfriend, would you please spare me the emails telling me I'm pushing my sexual orientation in your face? What has Jonah just done but declare his heterosexuality loud and clear? And good for him. But what's sauce for the, er, well, you can fill in the rest of the metaphor yourselves."
Now as a Goldberg (and Gavora), I'm sure LT will have no problem suiting up for the culture wars. Still, it would be nice if she could learn how to tie her own shoes first. Beyond that, I'm not sure what to say. I'm not sure Lucy is a declaration of my heterosexuality -- gays aren't genetic mules after all -- but this, too, takes things in a direction I care not to travel. I do think Andrew makes a perfectly legitimate point. Conservatives who say gays "flaunt" their homosexuality often say so in response to remarkably prosaic comments. If a gay guy has a picture of his boyfriend on his desk at the office he's accused of flaunting his orientation. I can say I went to the movies with my wife and no one thinks twice. If I said I went to the movies with my husband, look out. But to agree with Andrew on this point -- and I do agree with him -- simply concedes the obvious. There is less social space for homosexuality than there is for heterosexuality. How much and what kind of social space there should be for homosexuality is the crux of the debate. That's a debate I'm willing to get into -- another time. I'd just rather not use my munchkin as the icon for it. Now, if somehow we could make Cosmo the center of a controversy -- "Leash Laws: What Price Freedom?" for example -- I'd be all for it.
Posted at 10:59 AM
I FORGOT [Jonah Goldberg]
K-Lo is on leave this AM, which slows everything down.
Posted at 10:38 AM
THE TRUTH ABOUT WMDS [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
This explains it all.
Posted at 06:40 AM
TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES [Andrew Stuttaford]
And then there’s this.
Posted at 04:30 AM
TRAINSPOTTING (CTD) [Andrew Stuttaford]
My apologies. Trainspotting is not only a British pastime. A number of people have e-mailed to say that trains are being spotted here in the US too, by ‘railfans’. Like their brothers across the Atlantic (I would be surprised if there are many sisters involved in this hobby) railfans are under pressure, but dealing with it in a curiously mature way – cooperation and ‘unthreatening’ tee shirts. The Washington Post takes up the story here, but for those not enthralled enough by all the excitement to click on the link here’s an extract:
“…chat sites have been filled for weeks with advice on what to do about the growing police attention. That advice includes a caution that the railroads also stress: Don't trespass on railroad property. Many of the postings take a patriotic tone; many others express anger. But the advice also includes ways to look unthreatening, by wearing a shirt with a locomotive on it, for instance, or carrying railfan magazines to show police officers who never heard of the hobby.
"As crazy as it sounds, you need to educate the cop about our strange hobby in under 60 seconds," wrote Todd Clark, the webmaster of Trainorders.com.
Clark said in an interview that, for the most part, railroad police are familiar with the hobby but local police "think it's bizarre that grown men would be out there taking pictures of trains."
Rutter suggested that railfans be "mellow" when approached by police. He said Whitenight was a good example of how to act: Cooperate, keep cool and understand that "everything passes in time."”
Sadly, there are some extremists:
“Some railfans are advising their brothers to remain undercover as much as possible, not looking like railfans, keeping the car out of sight, taking one photo and moving to another location. This is becoming known as "guerrilla railfanning."”
In a possibly related development units of heavily armed stamp collectors are said to be gathering somewhere in the hinterland.
Posted at 04:28 AM
MORE ANTI-SMOKERS [Andrew Stuttaford]
Here’s a country that agrees with the EU about the importance of banning cigarettes from movies. Yes, it’s a dictatorship – Vietnam (thanks to the reader who pointed this out).
And here’s an extract from a Time Magazine profile of Ho Chi Minh:
“In Paris, Ho worked as a photo retoucher. The city's fancy restaurants were beyond his means, but he indulged in one luxury--American cigarettes, preferably Camels or Lucky Strikes. “
Posted at 01:44 AM
SPIRITED SUNDAYS [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
This will start a debate.
Posted at 01:02 AM
Thursday, May 29, 2003
"REGIME CHANGE" [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
Rumsfeld re: Iran. The say I hear Colin Powell speak those words...
Posted at 11:33 PM
JAYSON BLAIR, POET [Rick Brookhiser]
Jonah's link omits several of Blair's poems, which have turned up in Terrapin UnBound, a short-lived University of Maryland literary mag. (Sorry, I can't do links--too old technology). The short one beginning "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?/Thou are more lovely and more temperate" is really quite good, as are many passages of the longer one beginning "Of man's first disobedience and the fruit/Of that forbidden tree whose mortal taste/Brought death into the world..."
Posted at 11:03 PM
DERB IN LA [John Derbyshire]
I shall be flying to LA tomorrow morning at -- gaaaaah! -- 7:15 am for Book Expo America. This is a trade show & I am not sure that members of the public are allowed in. At any rate, they just sent me an access pass the size of a mouse pad, with bar codes all over it. I'll be staying at the Holiday Inn Downtown at 750 Garland & be glad to sign a book for anyone who drops by, though obviously you should call ahead first to see if I'm in (213-628-5242). My publisher is paying for the trip so of course if they want me somewhere I have to be there. If you DO figure a way to gatecrash BEA, we are table 26 at the LA Convention Center & I'm listed as doing an EVENT there from 1:30 to 2:00 Saturday. I have no clue what EVENT means but am ready for anything up to & including juggling chain saws.
Posted at 11:00 PM
PRYOR - "TRUE BELIEVER" [Jonathan H. Adler]
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has this profile of Alabama Attorney General William Pryor, nominated to a vacancy on the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals -- arguably President Bush's most controversial judicial nominee to date. A sidebar discusses Pryor's "personal distaste" for abortion. Those interested in more on the Pryor nomination should check out Southern Appeal, Pryor's biggest blawg booster. Those interested in a preview of Pryor's opposition should visit Ignatz. Searching Pryor on either blawg will pull up lots o' stuff.
Posted at 06:48 PM
MORE SOCIOLOGY OF THE RIGHT [Jonah Goldberg]
From a reader:
I was just like that twice-a-day bong ripper who voted for Dole and felt pro-life inclinations. At college in Seattle in the late '80s -- even after barely getting home from a Dead Kennedy or Butthole Surfers show, no matter how wasted I was, I could still sober up enough to read my American Spectator or NR for a few before slipping off to sleep.
Posted at 06:21 PM
YOU'RE GONNA GIVE ME A COMPLEX [Jonah Goldberg]
The picture of my lil' Lucy has prompted many nice and kind comments from readers, a shocking number of them back-handed. About 40% of the responses say "Wow, she's adorable! Your wife must be good looking." Or "If your wife looks anything like you, this baby's got to be adopted!"
Posted at 04:33 PM
POLI-CHICKS [Jonah Goldberg]
From a reader:
Dear Jonah: Your reader, and your comment on social life in college, have hit upon the great truth that was Socrates's argument for the education of women: In general, men will do more or less whatever women want, so the key to a good society is to educate women to want the right things.
Posted at 04:21 PM
NATIONAL REVIEW MUST HAVE ONE! [Jonah Goldberg]
This is something we could raise money for. This is something NROniks would pay to go on. This is something we need! Our own aircraft carrier!
Posted at 04:02 PM
WHEN GOLDBERG AND DERBYSHIRE COLLIDE [Jonah Goldberg]
Posted at 03:58 PM
THE ROUGH END OF THE PINEAPPLE [Andrew Stuttaford]
Trainspotting under threat! Read this and be amazed by this very British hobby - and by those who would ban it.
Posted at 03:28 PM
GOOD POINT [Jonah Goldberg]
From a reader about the Hipublicans G-File:
My response I'd phrase some of this differently, but I think this reader identifies one of the issues always underplayed in analysis of campus politics: social life is very important. Personally, I think the desire to get chicks and not get in the way of drinking and drug use is one of the main explanations for the popularity of libertarianism on college campuses. There are other factors of course, the fetishization of individuality being a major one, but the desire not to seem like a drag is a big part of the story.
Posted at 03:27 PM
PACKY EAST [Andrew Stuttaford]
NRO has plenty of good stuff on Sir Bob Hope, one of the great Englishmen of the last hundred years, but here's the Daily Telegraph's view. This detail is too good not to repeat:
"It took the young talent some time to make it big. He once worked as a newspaper reporter, boxed under the name of Packy East, played third billing to Siamese twins and trained seals and worked as a warm-up for the comedian Fatty Arbuckle."I like the way that "newspaper reporter" is included in that list of lowly occupations. Very New York Times.
Posted at 02:55 PM
US AND THEM [Andrew Stuttaford]
How 'they' see the US : an article by a member of the European 'parliament'. Read while sitting down and in a calm mood. Memo to the supposedly 'dumbfounded' Republican congressman: you're right and Clegg is wrong.
Posted at 02:54 PM
JAYSON BLAIR'S COLLEGE POEMS [Jonah Goldberg]
From the Smoking Gun.
Posted at 02:38 PM
LIGHT UP [Andrew Stuttaford]
I very rarely smoke cigarettes, but I do occasionally enjoy a cigar. Saturday, May 31st will be a good day for a cigar, I think. If you are in an aeroplane on Saturday, however, or stuck in one of Nurse Bloomberg's bleak (and increasingly empty) bars, why not try this instead?
Posted at 02:26 PM
CENSORSHIP WATCH [Andrew Stuttaford]
Just when you think that the EU cannot get any worse, the bureaucrats at the Commission have come up with this - a proposal that the EU's member 'states' (a term one uses with ever-decreasing confidence these days) should ban smoking in films and, it appears, fashion shoots in magazines. An individual with the extremely important title of 'Health and Consumer Protection Commissioner' claims to be worried that "movie characters smoking onscreen often look cool and glamorous". Well, yes, they do, but so what? In any event, why stop there? Movies often feature 'cool and glamorous' murderers, thieves, and con men. Are those to be banned too?
Posted at 02:20 PM
MIKE TYSON: ALL CLASS [Jonah Goldberg]
From Fox News:
In a television interview scheduled for broadcast Thursday, Tyson again denied he raped Desiree Washington in 1991 in an Indianapolis hotel room. But he said the burden of being labeled a convicted rapist makes him want to do it now.
Posted at 11:53 AM
YOU KNEW THIS WAS COMING. EVERYONE SHOULD READ NR(ODT), TOO! [NRO Staff]
GET 4 FREE ISSUES OF NATIONAL REVIEW!
That's right: We'll send you 4 FREE issues of National Review at absolutely no risk to you. If you're impressed by National Review's superior writing style, analysis, and wit, we'll send you the next 12 issues for a total of 16 in all! for only $19.95. Click here for details.
Posted at 11:51 AM
SIMPLY PUT, EVERYONE SHOULD READ NRO [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
No need to respond. Just let The Corner know that not all your readers and subscribers are college kids or "young adults." I'm pushing 70.
Posted at 11:50 AM
I LIKE ... [Jonah Goldberg]
Hey guys, NRO has been my constant source of ammunition in battling the pompous Bolshevik professors in the History department. You guys have no idea how influential you are. I left many professors saying things like, " that's a good point. Where did you read that?" I've even turned on some of my "hip-friends," who voted for Nader in the last election, to NRO & the Corner. This thing is getting really big. -[Name withheld]
Posted at 11:46 AM
THE NEXT CHIEF [Jonathan H. Adler]
Jay suggests Justice Thomas as the next Chief Justice. Even setting aside their doctrinal differences, there are more reasons to prefer Thomas over Justice Scalia for the position. First, of the two, Thomas is more likely to be a coalition maker. Justice Thomas is universally liked by his colleagues. Scalia, on the other hand, can be a bit prickly at times. (What often makes his opinions such a joy to read can also alienate his colleagues.) Second, a good Chief Justice must also be a good adminsitrator. This aspect of the position is often overlooked. Justice Thomas, unlike Scalia, has substantial administrative experience (he ran the EEOC), and apparently likes that sort of thing. Thus, if one of the two is to be the next Chief, Thomas would be the better fit.
Posted at 11:44 AM
WHY IS THIS ON PAGE 13 OF THE TIMES? [Jonah Goldberg]
The US Government asserts that the trailers were used to produce biological weapons.
Posted at 10:57 AM
E-MAIL CONFESSIONS [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
I am a lout. I hardly ever answer emails at this point. For this I am ashamed and sorry. I do read them all, and appreciate them all, and heartily encourage them. But I am sorry I very often cannot answer them individually.
Posted at 10:48 AM
E-MAIL PROBS [Stanley Kurtz]
I’ve put a bunch of stuff up on The Corner today, and there may be some e-mails as a result. Unfortunately, I’m having a problem with my NRO e-mail account. I can still read your mail, but I can’t get answers out. I read all of my NRO mail, and generally try to answer as many messages as I can. If I don’t answer, it’s usually because I’m working on a project and just don’t have time. But I do read your messages. Until I get this problem fixed, however, I won’t be able to answer your mail. When the problem is finally resolved, I’ll do my best to get through the backlog and answer what I can. But if you don’t hear from me, know that I’ve seen your message anyway.
Posted at 10:31 AM
G-FILE, SUNSHINE OF MY DAY [Stanley Kurtz]
I loved your piece on the New York Times Magazine college conservatives article, Jonah. I agree with all your points, although it’s telling and welcome that even Colapinto acknowledges the tendency of political correctness to alienate students. Oddly, your piece leaves me happy, rather than angry. I guess it’s because you say--and readers seem to confirm--that NRO has had a big impact on campuses. Of course students send me e-mail in response to my pieces, but it’s tough to gauge just how much play NRO really gets at colleges. I’m happy doing what I do, but I miss teaching. Nothing can substitute for direct contact with students. The takeover of the academy by the Left never ceases to sadden me. And if conservative professors were actually allowed on campus, I think all students (including future New York Times reporters) would be a lot less likely to treat conservatives as a mysterious species of oddly inhuman folk. Of course that’s why the left has done everything in their power to keep conservative teachers out. Still, the idea that NRO is really getting through to folks on campus is wonderful. It makes me happy to think I’m a part of it. So thanks for brightening my day.
Posted at 10:24 AM
TIMES TRASHES EVANGELICALS (AGAIN) [Rod Dreher]
Well, some things never change at the New York Times. The Times is shocked, shocked to discover that Evangelical Christians don't care for Islam, and want to convert Muslims. Catholic blogger Mark Shea has a sensible reaction to this nonsense: "The most revealing things in the article were not the remarks of the Evangelicals, but of the Muslims who feel so threatened. I have Evangelicals and Fundamentalists tell me every other day that my religion is evil and that the Eucharist I adore is an idol or a death cookie or whatnot. Guess what? I survive. I don't feel the impulse to burn them to death or kill their families or launch a jihad or fly a plane into Jerry Falwell's church. Indeed, Muslim imams throughout the Middle East routinely bash Christians and Jews in unbelievably ugly terms and I don't think a fitting response would be to blow up the Kaaba. But let a Christian wear a cross or bring a Bible to most Islamic countries and he should fear for his life. That's the story that the NY Times somehow neglected to mention in this piece. Islam needs to grow up and deal with diversity. Presently its best minds are on the cutting edge of the 9th century."
Posted at 10:11 AM
BRAVE NEW WORLD OF DNA? [Stanley Kurtz]
The capture of accused serial killer Derrick Todd Lee through the use of DNA evidence reminds us of the promise and danger of the new DNA databases. Lee was identified using DNA left on the fingernails of one of his struggling victims. Yet family members of Lee’s victims have complained that Mississippi’s DNA database is not up to speed, a fact which may have delayed Lee’s capture. In the premier issue of The New Atlantis. an important new journal on technology and society, Christine Rosen (formerly Christine Stolba) has an important piece called, “Liberty, Privacy, and DNA Databases.” Rosen certainly acknowledges the potential benefits of DNA databases for fighting crime and curing disease. But Rosen also raises what I think are a number of legitimate concerns about the potential misuses of DNA databases.
Biotechnology really is taking us into a new world. That’s why a journal like The New Atlantis has become necessary. Christine Rosen’s DNA database article (the piece’s genesis was an NRO article) raises frightening possibilities you probably haven’t even considered. Someday you might be denied health insurance because of a DNA sample you thought you were giving anonymously to a private company or a public institution. The advent of a database holding every Americans DNA is entirely possible. If nothing else, Rosen’s article is worth reading for the bizarre examples. Don’t miss the false rape, staged with semen smuggled out of jail in a ketchup packet. Then there’s the guy secretly tested for paternity when his (possible) daughter swipes one of his cigarette butts. How about Iceland and Tonga selling their citizens’ collective DNA to a couple of private companies? If you’ve ever seen the film Gattaca, you’ll know what Rosen is worried about.
The civil-liberties issues in this DNA database question cut different ways. On the one hand, there are deep concerns about invasion of privacy. On the other hand, there is the right to sell or dispose of your DNA as you see fit. Ultimately, we need to balance the great power for good of DNA technology with the very real dangers. Even conservatives who think civil liberties advocates may sometimes press too hard against legitimate tactics in the war on terror need to take the privacy problems of DNA databases seriously. Rosen’s article is well worth a read.
Posted at 10:03 AM
COLLEGE CONS [Jonah Goldberg]
Getting a lot of emails like this:
Great article on college conservatives. I graduated from college in 1997. At the time, I was an officer in College Democrats (while in law school, sometime in 98 or 99, I moved to the right).
Posted at 09:44 AM
SUMMER OF THE COURTS [Stanley Kurtz]
This summer is shaping up to be the summer of the courts. The big affirmative action decision should be handed down within weeks. And the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court will likely circumvent the legislature and legalize gay marriage by mid-July. At just about the same time, we are likely to be embroiled in a battle over an opening on the Supreme Court. It’s impossible to know exactly how the Supreme Court will decide the Michigan affirmative action case. (I gamed out the problem in “Diversity Questions.”) I suppose the most likely alternative is a finding that affirms diversity, while simultaneously putting some controls on the execution of affirmative action programs. (Colleges, of course, will promptly disregard or circumvent the controls.) And anything other than legal gay marriage in Massachusetts would be a big surprise. That means that in the midst of a major political battle over a Supreme Court appointment (or two), the country will be reeling from two major judicial decisions on cultural issues, each of which will probably be at odds with public opinion. And all of this will coincide with the battle for the Democratic presidential nomination. The upshot, I think, will probably be a net plus for the Republicans. The Michigan case and the Massachusetts court decisions will emphasize the danger of liberal judges. The public favors neither affirmative action nor gay marriage. That should make it much easier for the president to get his way on court appointments.
Posted at 09:35 AM
WOOD ON OGBU [Stanley Kurtz]
The big Supreme Court decision on affirmative action is coming, so the question of admissions preferences and “diversity” will soon be on everyone’s minds. I’ve already recommended Peter Wood’s, Diversity: The Invention of a Concept as the best treatment of this issue. Wood’s book is by turns, hilarious, biting, extraordinarily thoughtful and thought-provoking. You can find my extended discussion of it here. (And if you don’t believe me, have a look at the reviews posted at amazon.) Anyone with an interest in the question of affirmative action and diversity who has not already bought Wood’s book has grievously erred.
Now Peter Wood has come through again with an incisive review (originally published in Boston University’s, Journal of Education) of an important new book by John Ogbu. Ogbu is the anthropologist who first reported the phenomenon of black school kids refusing to work hard for fear of “acting white.” Now Ogbu has put out a careful ethnographic study of black students and black families in the wealthy Shaker Heights district of Cleveland. Ogbu finds that children of wealthy and highly educated black families in a liberal, prestigious, and fully integrated school district still seriously underperform whites. The evidence points strongly to a cultural explanation for the gap. Ogbu’s cultural argument is powerful--even explosive. Yet Ogbu is sensitive to the potential controversy, and to some extent plays his argument down. Wood shows clearly what the real argument and implications of Ogbu’s book are. Reading this piece by Wood, I felt that all the claptrap about affirmative action, diversity, “institutional racism,” etc. had been swept aside and I was finally looking squarely at the problem at the heart of this great national controversy–-the problem no one wants to talk about.
Posted at 09:32 AM
WELL, OF COURSE [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
If only Bill Clinton could run again...
Posted at 09:27 AM
THE VIKING KITTENS ARE BACK [Jonah Goldberg]
And quite disturbingly, they are at The Gay Bar! (Gay Bar! Gay Bar! Gay Bar!.... great that's stuck in my head now).
Turn volume down -- but not off -- if you're at the office.
Posted at 09:18 AM
MICHIGAN DECEPTION, CON’T [Stanley Kurtz]
Yesterday on The Corner, picking up on a column by Linda Chavez, I wrote about an apparent act of deception by the University of Michigan in the affirmative action case currently before the Supreme Court. Michigan appears to have deliberately held back crucial data that contradicts and undermines the report on which it bases its claim that “diversity” is so important a plus for all students that reverse discrimination is justified. Jonathan Adler then, rightly, put up a post linking to Michigan’s denial of the charges. I have since contacted Curt Levey, the Director of Legal and Public Affairs at the Center for Individual Rights, which is sponsoring the plaintiffs in the Michigan case, to get his answer to Michigan’s denials.
According to Curt Levey, of the Center for Individual Rights, “The University of Michigan did provide the plaintiffs in the affirmative action lawsuits with an executive summary of its 1994 study that revealed the negative effects of achieving diversity through race-based admissions. However, the University refused the plaintiffs’ request for the data sets underlying the 1994 study and the related expert report of Michigan professor Patricia Gurin, which was submitted as evidence. Thus, the plaintiffs were denied an opportunity to do their own analysis of the data. But the larger point is this: Michigan based its national pro-affirmative action crusade on supposedly groundbreaking research proving the educational benefits of diversity. Yet the university never publicly disclosed the existence of its own contradictory research.”
So the upshot is that while the University of Michigan may not have technically violated the law, they have shown profound bad faith through a massive sin of omission. Their famous, controversial, and highly touted research report “proving” the benefits of diversity has been contradicted all along by their own internal research. Yet until Chetly Zarko brought the matter to public attention with his May 16 Wall Street Journal piece, Michigan succeeded in effectively burying the truth in an obscure and unpublicized legal document. The title of the important new analysis of the Michigan data by Robert Lerner and Althea Nagai tells the story, “Diversity Distorted: How the University of Michigan Ignored Inconvenient Data in Order to Sell Diversity to the Courts and the Public.” So I believe that my initial claim still stands. If the Supreme Court affirms Michigan’s affirmative action policies, even if no law has been broken, the decision will have been tainted.
Posted at 09:14 AM
MELTDOWN CONTINUES [Jonah Goldberg]
The NYT stuff isn't stopping. I'm beginning to rethink my support for Bragg. See Todd Purdum's email is pretty revealing. And Andrew Sullivan's continuing his exploratory surgery -- sans anesthetic -- of the NYT's festering wounds.
Posted at 09:07 AM
SHE COULDN'T BE STOPPED [Jonah Goldberg]
Grandma Goldberg has posted the first picture of Goldberg: The Next Generation.
Posted at 08:54 AM
THE ORIGINAL BLAIR [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
The British pm in Iraq.
Posted at 08:20 AM
Wednesday, May 28, 2003
CONFESSION [Rod Dreher]
I just remembered today: I once was an uncredited stringer for The New York Times. It was nine years ago, and I was living for the winter in St. Francisville, La. I wrote a couple of freelance stories for the Baton Rouge Advocate about a dispute involving a Yankee landlord, a venerable plantation, and a poor black Baptist congregation the landlord was trying to force off the property. The story caught fire somewhat in the national media, and I called the Times' Atlanta bureau to see if I could interest them in it. I did a day's worth of reporting for Peter Applebome, then the Times' Atlanta correspondent, who flew in the next day. He spent a few hours in town, interviewed some folks, then left. He wrote a beautiful story, and used some of my material. I think the Times paid me for my stringer work. I got no byline, but didn't expect one. With that in mind, I think Rick Bragg is getting something of a raw deal here. The Times' policy on using uncredited stringers to supplement the reporting of its stars may be a bad one, but it predates Howell Raines or Rick Bragg.
Posted at 11:15 PM
JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY [Jonah Goldberg]
I just got an email from a student at JHU and it dawned on me I never hear from or about Hopkins. It's weird because I went to college in Hopkins shadow and so I'm pretty attuned to noticing its name etc. But I almost never hear from students there, never hear about campus shenanigans there. It's a great school but it's kind of invisible at the same time.
Posted at 11:12 PM
ROCK THE VOTE [Jonah Goldberg]
Ponnuru was on the case.
Posted at 05:37 PM
HIPUBLICANS [Jonah Goldberg]
G-File is up.
Posted at 04:59 PM
RE: ROCK THE VOTE [Jonah Goldberg]
Oh......how I loathe Rock the Vote. I despise it -- and the whole youth politics "movement" -- in every sense and have for years and years. Forget issue advocacy, which they've really always been about. Even their arguments for actual voting disgust me. The whole choose or lose schtick implicitly said that young people should get in the game before the country stole their slice of pork, their entitlement, their grab at the cookie jar. It created a whole cosmology of generational grievance which said that being young was as ideologically binding as being black or gay or some other team on the identity politics left, when it should have been arguing that being black or gay etc shouldn't be ideologically binding either. Indeed, more than any other demographic, young people should be taught to think about the good of their country as a whole. They shouldn't be indoctrinated into seeing the government as a first-come, first-serve, get it while you can all-you-can-eat buffet. That was always the message of Rock the Vote, Lead or Leave and the vast majority of Gen X hucksters who used generational stereotyping to make bogus liberal arguments and advance their own careers.
Posted at 04:56 PM
BLEEDING HEART CONSERVATISM [Jonah Goldberg]
My syndicated column.
Posted at 04:41 PM
ROCK THEIR VOTES [Jonathan H. Adler]
Conservatives have long suspected that Rock the Vote, an MTV-oriented outfit that pushes youth voter registration, had a political agenda. Now it's official. The National Journal reports that Hans Riemer, head of the organization's new Washington, D.C. office, said Rock the Vote "is moving aggressivle to carve out a role as an issue organization that takes a stand on policy issues for young people." Apparently it is not enough for young people to vote -- they have to vote the right way.
Posted at 04:14 PM
BEYOND KEN CLARKE [Andrew Stuttaford]
Somebody who is a lot smarter than Ken Clarke is Iain Murray ("the Barry White of statistical analysis" : Jonah Goldberg). He's opposed to a referendum for a number of perfectly respectable reasons including fears that any question will be rigged in favor of the 'constitution' (he's right about that, I suspect) and concerns about the precedent (even if there is a 'no' vote) it may set. He's correct in the sense that the EU's mandarins rarely take no for an answer - both the Danes and the Irish were subjected to what were essentially repeat referenda after their electors gave the 'wrong' answer. Despite that, the case for a referendum remains compelling - not least for the impact a 'no' vote would have on the rest of the EU.
Iain is also a little too sanguine about the UK parliament's ability to withdraw from the 'constitution' once it has been signed. He's right that under English constitutional theory (some readers might now like to move on to the next post) no parliament can irrevocably bind a successor, but this is the sort of theoretical point that I used to sleep through at university. As a legal matter, for example, parliament could repeal the legislation under which, say, India was given its independence, but so what? Kipling wannabes are likely to be disappointed by the results. The key point is that legal theory cannot ignore political reality - the more entangled the UK becomes in the federalizing project, the more difficult, if not impossible, it becomes to extricate it. Iain sees the EU as a 'tangled web' (true) with the 'constitution' as a spider (also true). Contrary to what he says, however, the UK is not the wasp that stings the spider and flies away, it is the fly.
Meanwhile, away from the drama of insect and arachnid metaphor, yet another guy who is smarter than Ken Clarke, journalist Stephen Pollard, has entered the fray. His last sentence says it all:If power ultimately resides in the people, the people who grant MPs a temporary lien on that power for five years at a time, then only the people can decide whether or not to hand it over for good
Why should Americans care about all this? Because the more the UK becomes trapped in this mess, the more Europe loses its most eloquent voice for the free market, the nation state and, yes, friendship across the Atlantic.
Posted at 02:53 PM
ABORTION AND CANCER [Jonathan H. Adler]
The offending LA Times story does disparage the Texas abortion counseling laws. At the same time, the story does accurately summarize the scientific consensus on the alleged link between abortion and increased risks of breast cancer. In short, the apparent increase in breast cancer cases is too small to be reliably distinguished from statistical noise. Of course, this rarely stops major newspapers from trumpeting scientific studies alleging to find cancer risks from all sorts of substances based on equally questionable findings. If the LA Times is serious about addressing bias in its reporting, it will approach environmental cancer scares with the same level of skepticism.
Posted at 02:22 PM
KEN CLARKE [Andrew Stuttaford]
Kenneth Clarke, a former Chancellor of the Exchequer, and, he claims, a supporter of the Conservative Party, has now weighed in on the debate over the EU's 'constitution'. He's opposed to a referendum and annoyed with the newspapers that have had the effrontery to suggest that the UK should have one. "The trouble, " he whines, "with British politicians is that they are too frightened of the newspapers." The trouble, it seems, with Ken Clarke is that he is not frightened enough of British voters. He suspects that, given the chance, they would vote down Diamond Giscard's constitution, and so he doesn't want them to have that chance - and he's prepared to tell them so.
Posted at 02:04 PM
HELL FREEZES OVER [Rod Dreher]
"I'm trying to pick my jaw up off the floor," says an L.A. journalist friend who passes along this May 22 memo that Times editor John Carroll sent to some staffers:
I'm concerned about the perception---and the occasional reality---that the Times is a liberal, "politically correct" newspaper. Generally speaking, this is an inaccurate view, but occasionally we prove our critics right. We did so today with the front-page story on the bill in Texas that would require abortion doctors to counsel patients that they may be risking breast cancer.
The apparent bias of the writer and/or the desk reveals itself in the third paragraph, which characterizes such bills in Texas and elsewhere as requiring "so-called counseling of patients." I don't think people on the anti-abortion side would consider it "so-called," a phrase that is loaded with derision.
The story makes a strong case that the link between abortion and breast cancer is widely discounted among researchers, but I wondered as I read it whether somewhere there might exist some credible scientist who believes in it.
Such a person makes no appearance in the story's lengthy passage about the scientific issue. We do quote one of the sponsors of the bill, noting that he "has a professional background in property management." Seldom will you read a cheaper shot than this. Why, if this is germane, wouldn't we point to legislators on the other side who are similarly bereft of scientific credentials?
It is not until the last three paragraphs of the story that we finally surface a professor of biology and endocrinology who believes the abortion/cancer connection is valid. But do we quote him as to why he believes this? No. We quote his political views.
Apparently the scientific argument for the anti-abortion side is so absurd that we don't need to waste our readers' time with it.
The reason I'm sending this note to all section editors is that I want everyone to understand how serious I am about purging all political bias from our coverage. We may happen to live in a political atmosphere that is suffused with liberal values (and is unreflective of the nation as a whole), but we are not going to push a liberal agenda in the news pages of the Times.
I'm no expert on abortion, but I know enough to believe that it presents a profound philosophical, religious and scientific question, and I respect people on both sides of the debate. A newspaper that is intelligent and fair-minded will do the same.
Let me know if you'd like to discuss this.
Posted at 01:53 PM
YOU'VE WAITED LONG ENOUGH [NRO Staff]
GET 4 FREE ISSUES OF NATIONAL REVIEW!
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Posted at 12:52 PM
MICHIGAN'S RESPONSES [Jonathan H. Adler]
The University of Michigan has strongly challenged charges that it held back preliminary data on the impact of affirmative action in higher education. (See here, here, and here.) It is also my understanding that the plaintiffs in the Michigan affirmative action cases have withdrawn any claims that the Michigan failed to disclose relevant documents during the discovery process, and therefore the relevant documents would have been available to the plaintiffs prior to any Freedom of Information Act request. It does not appear that any of this undermines the Lerner-Nagai critique of the Gurin studies, however.
Posted at 12:16 PM
YEP, RAINES IS COLORBLIND [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
Posted at 12:14 PM
A ONE-TERM PRESIDENT WHO SPENT 8 YRS IN THE WHITE HOUSE [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
Dick Morris on Blumenthal's book:
We read of his work with Hillary in the White House theater, using taxpayer resources and publicly paid staff for prepare herself to announce for the Senate. But we hear nothing of any work on the people’s business. Was he out of the loop? I doubt it. The point is that there was no loop. The White House was closed throughout the second term.
Posted at 12:05 PM
DON'T TAKE A SEAT IN BLOOMBERG'S NEW YORK [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
While I am not a huge fan of people blocking stairways, this sounds like more Bloomberg insanity: a pregnant woman fined for resting on subway stairs.
Posted at 11:08 AM
SUPREME DECEPTION? [Stanley Kurtz]
Did the University of Michigan intentionally deceive the Supreme Court? It looks as though the answer is yes. The University of Michigan’s claim that the goods of “diversity” somehow justify reverse discrimination have long rested on a research report by U. of Michigan professor Patricia Gurin. By showing that some university students have good things to say abut diversity, the Gurin report claims to have proven that affirmative action benefits all students, regardless of race. Gurin’s thin and unpersuasive research has long since been debunked. Even so, Michigan’s court case continues to rely on it. But now it emerges that the University of Michigan deliberately held back critical data, from its own internal investigations, that contradict the Gurin report’s conclusions. Linda Chavez has the story in her latest column. This means that, should the Supreme Court hold for Michigan, the decision will have been tainted by a serious deception.
Posted at 11:05 AM
BLAIR AND FALWELL [Jim Boulet]
Readers of The Nation are reminded again and again that those who sought to expose communist spies during the 1950's were paranoid, conspiracy nuts.
Thus the shock of reading the magazine's June 9th issue, in which Patricia Williams suggests in her column (not available online) that the New York Times might have been a victim of an enemy subversive within its ranks:
[Former Times reporter Jayson] Blair ... is a con man who used his considerable literary talent -- and imagination -- to discredit one of the world's great papers and the last genuinely liberal voice in America. . . .Blair's deceit was calculated, multifaceted and skillful. Let me suggest the following, not conspiratorially but rather in the spirit of individual responsibility: Surely if Blair, who attended Jerry Falwell's Liberty University before transferring to the University of Maryland, were white, wouldn't the question of ideological motive at least flicker across the table?
Full disclosure: I worked for Dr. Falwell during the mid-1980s and had a chance to meet and work with several Liberty University students. They were all good kids with strong religious convictions, but their political opinions varied quite a bit more than those of the staff of the New York Times.
Posted at 10:31 AM
BUY EXXON [Jonathan H. Adler]
The New York Times gives a good reason to only buy gas from Exxon. (Somehow, though, I doubt that was the intent of the story.)
Posted at 10:00 AM
MAYBE KRUGMAN IS UNRAVELING [NRO Financial Editors]
America's most dangerous liberal pundit Paul Krugman of the New York Times has a new book to sell. Problem is, the title's wrong, the angle's wrong, and as usual the author's wrong. In the latest installment of the Krugman Truth Squad, NRO Financial's Don Luskin writes, "[Krugman's] book is called The Great Unraveling, but right now most things seem to be raveling. I'm thinking remainder bins." Still, Krugman wants to sell books, so he's at his catastrophic best in his latest column a Keynesian roadmap for travelling the dark and plunderous highways of deflation and the liquidity trap. Liquidity what? Anyway, no worries. The Truth Squad is all over it.
Posted at 09:31 AM
MISSION ACCOMPLISHED [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
Posted at 09:13 AM
RUMMY'S VERSE [John Derbyshire]
Well, in the first place, Kathryn, I have recently decided (after some equivocal remarks in earlier writings) that I am utterly opposed to so-called "free verse." ("'Free verse'? You may as well call sleeping in a ditch 'free architecture'."---G.K. Chesterton.) But to the matter in hand. "September 11th cubed" could be interpreted in several ways. As "September September September 11th 11th 11th," for instance. "911" cubed is 756,058,031. "91101" cubed is 756,082,928,903,301. If "cubed and squared" are to be understood as successive operations, then we are raising to the sixth power, so the results would then be 571,623,746,239,596,961 and 571,661,395,378,994,114,706,608,696,601, respectively. A scientifically-minded person would of course prefer to work from the Julian date, in which the event "9/11" happened at around 2,452,163.88, which, if you raise it to the sixth power, gives 217,418,725,854,466,990,276,235,742,262,044,129,399.204957917184. Then again... Kathryn? Hello? Kathryn?
Posted at 09:12 AM
A POEM THAT KINDA MADE ME THINK OF THE DERB [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
Posted at 08:28 AM
BOB GELDOF UNPLUGGED: ON CLINTON, EU, MUGABE & MORE (YOU'LL LIKE...SERIOUSLY) [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
"Clinton was a good guy, but he did f*** all." There's more: here and here and here.
Posted at 08:20 AM
YOU'VE GOT TO WONDER... [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
Posted at 07:57 AM
RETURN OF THE IDOL (2) [Andrew Stuttaford]
As mentioned in the Corner over the weekend, Berlin’s government is thinking about re-erecting a statue of Lenin in the DDR’s old capital. Perhaps they might want to use this one (apologies – the article is in, ahem, Freedom) instead. It’s literally (if you stand in front of it for a very, very long time) as well as figuratively dangerous, and thus gives a better sense of the man. Thanks to the reader who spotted it.
Meanwhile, another reader has this suggestion:
“They should put the Lenin statue back, albeit, with a different plinth. [He] should be placed on a base of crushed and broken bodies held aloft on the bent backs of ragged workers. A true tribute to East Germany's identity”
Posted at 06:29 AM
EU CONSTITUTION, AGAIN [Andrew Stuttaford]
Good summary of the latest version from the Daily Telegraph.
Amongst the, er, highlights:
“The Union shall work for a Europe of sustainable development based on balanced economic growth, with a social market economy aiming at full employment and social progress.”
Social market, eh? Check out today’s German economy for further details as to how that works.
“The Constitution, and law adopted by the Union's Institutions in exercising competences conferred on it, shall have primacy over the law of the Member States.”
Well, that speaks for itself.
"The Union's competence in matters of common foreign and security policy shall cover all areas of foreign policy and all questions relating to the Union's security, including the progressive framing of a common defence policy, which might lead to a common defence.
Hmmm, I think we know what that means.
"The European Council, deciding by qualified majority, with the agreement of the President of the Commission, shall appoint the Union's Foreign Minister. He shall conduct the Union's common foreign and security policy."
Chris Patten, call your office.
Of course, it is always possible for the UK to quit the EU so long as it can come to an agreement that “shall be concluded on behalf of the Union by the Council, acting by a qualified majority, after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament.”
Winston Churchill, don’t bother calling yours.
As Mrs Thatcher once said in a not so different context, "No! No! No!"
As blogger Philip Chaston (who has plenty more good stuff on this at Airstrip One) wrote today:
“Expect plenty of fireworks and a realisation by Labour that they are now stuck between a eurosceptic populace and their wish to be at the heart of Europe. (If they really want this, they could always sod off to Belarus, where the centre of Europe actually is).”
Nicely put, although to be pedantic it's actually in Lithuania, but why should that splendid country have to put up with Labour’s ghastly europhiles? Chaston is right, even if it's for the wrong reasons. Belarus would be a far more suitable destination for Brussels' Labour brigade.
Posted at 06:28 AM
IRAN SAYS WE'RE NOT SERIOUS ABOUT THE WAR ON TERROR [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
I hope we prove them wrong, on their own turf.
Posted at 06:07 AM
WEALTH OF NATIONS [John J. Miller]
Here's an example of the antiquities market--despised by many professional archaeologists--helping preserve great cultural treasures: The oldest book in the world is now on display in a Hungary museum. It was donated by an anonymous owner. The book is Etruscan; the article doesn't mention that Etruscan is one of the last great undeciphered languages.
Posted at 05:56 AM
RE: WORKING FOR THE ENEMY [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
Dave, that makes one look a bit differently at this.
Posted at 05:46 AM
LABOR-UNION BLEGG [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
If you have any insights or experience with religion and unions--religious exemptions, fights, decreased links between organized religion and labor unions...or anything else along those lines, give a holler at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'm getting into this bad habit of blegging because you guys always have some gems. Thanks.
Posted at 05:40 AM
SPIT HAPPENS [John J. Miller]
Spitting is a fundamental part of Chinese culture, reports the New York Times today. Something tells me this is the first time the term "dollop of phlegm" has ever appeared in the first paragraph of a Times article. (History in the making, folks!) The story focuses on how the Beijing regime now discourages spitting because of SARS. This is a job for the multiculturalists: Defending an age-old practice from Western notions of health and cleanliness.
Posted at 05:34 AM
WORKING FOR THE ENEMY [Dave Kopel]
Al Jazeera's director general has been fired, The Times reports, following the discovery that he was working with Saddam Hussein's secret police.
Posted at 02:38 AM
MATRIX IN THE NEWS [Dave Kopel]
Columnist Diana West connects "The Matrix" to various homicides in which the perpetrators claimed to be acting against the omnipresent matrix of control. The most notorious of these appears to be accused sniper Lee Boyd Malvo. Well, Charles Guiteau, who assassinated President James Garfield 1881, was an ardent Bible reader and advocate of "Bible Communism." Although the Bible is rife with violence, and with killings ordered God, that doesn't mean that the people who wrote the Bible bear the slightest responsibility for Guiteau's deranged attempt to use the Bible to justify murder. Timothy McVeigh quoted John Locke, and the Unabomber is reported to have owned heavily-annotated copy of Al Gore's "Earth in the Balance." But artists and authors can't be blamed for wicked acts which there was never any intention to incite.
Posted at 02:18 AM
CARTOON QUOTES [Jonah Goldberg]
Thanks! That was plenty. Much appreciated. Will fill ya in tomorrow. Going to sleep now.
Posted at 12:14 AM
Tuesday, May 27, 2003
CLINTON'S NON-REBOUND [Ramesh Ponnuru]
USA Today columnist DeWayne Wickham is ecstatic about a recent poll: "Some two years after he left office hounded by right-wing detractors and stained by his affair with Monica Lewinsky, Bill Clinton now ranks as this nation's third best chief executive, according to a recent CNN/USA TODAY/Gallup Poll. Only Abraham Lincoln (chosen by 15%) and John F. Kennedy (13%) finished ahead of Clinton (11%) in the April poll, which asked Americans who was 'the greatest' president. George W. Bush managed to tie Clinton for third place. Ronald Reagan, a conservative icon, garnered 10% of the vote, followed by Franklin Roosevelt, George Washington, Harry Truman and Jimmy Carter. Bush's father, the 41st president, was chosen by just 2% of the respondents, tying with Theodore Roosevelt and Thomas Jefferson. These results have to cause a lot of gnashing of teeth among those who tried to make Clinton's private missteps the legacy of his public service. . . . All of this makes me giddy. . . . This has to make conservatives squirm."
I suppose if the poll has brought some happiness to Mr. Wickham's life, it should not be begrudged him. But really, aren't these sorts of polls the least informative around? Every year there are news reports about who the "most admired" people in America, or the world, are; you only need to win the admiration of 13 percent of the public to win the contest. If the percentage of Americans who hold a favorable view of Clinton or his presidency were up, that would suggest a real shift in public opinion. This poll, on the other hand, looks useless.
Posted at 10:09 PM
DEMOCRATS ON PFC. LYNCH [Ramesh Ponnuru]
A few House Democrats are seeking a probe into the BBC's allegations that the rescue was staged--including Rahm Emanuel, who's supposedly a moderate.
Posted at 10:01 PM
BLEGGING -SIMPSONS, SOUTH PARK ETC [Jonah Goldberg]
I need quotes -- backed up with citations on web if possible -- to back up the assertion that cartoon shows -- South Park, Simpsons, King of the Hill etc -- were the best outlet for scathing un-P.C. humor in the 1990s. As many and as good as you can come up with would be appreciated. Please send them to Gfilecorrections@aol.com. Please put "cartoon quotes" or some such in subject header. Thanks!
Posted at 08:01 PM
TIME FOR TV DISCLOSURE [Jonah Goldberg]
But, what the press could really use is a big sweaty round of full-disclosures about how television news is produced. People get away with stuff in television editing that would be considered outrageous in print. For example, in print, if I quote you, I'm required to let you know if I'm quoting from different spots in our conversation. I can't take the tail end of sentence # 127 and splice it on to the begining of sentence #3 without using elipses (...) or some such. In television, they do that in almost every interview. In fact, whenever you see a conversation on "60 Minutes" many people might like to know that every time they cut to a tight shot of Ed Bradley or Leslie Stahl nodding and then back to the interviewee they've probably also edited vast chunks of conversation as well. But they make it sound like he just took a breath.
Or, lots of people might like to know that interviewers often re-ask the questions without the interviewee in the room. They also shoot "reaction shots" in which the interviewer nods and smiles as if they are having a conversation when their not talking to anybody (they use these re-asks to splice together the different quotes). Or, they might like to know that many interviews are conducted by speaker phone from a different city, sometimes with the re-asks and reaction shots pasted in. I could go on and on.
Posted at 05:31 PM
MORE FULL DISCLOSURE [Jonah Goldberg (With additional reporting and research assistance from Mr. Goldberg's Couch and dog)]
Ok, more seriously, this full disclosure stuff is going to get really exciting if carried to its logical conclusion. I just listened to an NPR report on the Bragg story while walking Cosmo (another largely uncredited contributor to my columns. Let's just see him get Howie Kurtz on the phone to rat me out). Of course, NPR had to reveal that many of its stories feature interviews not conducted by the reporters who deliver them on air. A pointy-head from the Poynter Institute suggested that reporters should work from a simple rule: put yourself in the position of the news consumer. What would they want to know?
I think this is a pretty good rule of thumb. But ultimately editors and managers will still have to decide because there will always be judgement calls to be made and policies to set.
Posted at 05:24 PM
WORD CHOICE [Dave Kopel]
Well, I would argue that even though you can say it, it would be better not to. You're not cussin', so it's not a per se immoral word. But given NRO's extremely powerful leadership role for today's college students, I'd argue that NRO ought to set a high-class tone of dialogue. If we don't set an example of high standards of discourse, nobody will. I suspect that if WFB were asked, he would agree. He'd probably try to convince you to say "feculent" instead, although I'd argue that copro-metaphors are so greatly overused today that NRO should employ them only in the rarest of circumstances.
I would, on the other hand, encourage extensive discussion of Star Trek.
Posted at 05:19 PM
RE: DAVE [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
You're quite right.
Posted at 05:17 PM
RE: MANIA [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
Jonah, I have the same impression re Bragg. Comparing him to Blair is completely unfair to Bragg. The story is Raines Raines Raines and the crappy operation he dares to sell as "the paper of record." (I can say crappy in The Corner, right? Am I asking myself if I can?)
Posted at 05:14 PM
FULL DISCLOSURE MANIA! [Jonah Goldberg]
Frankly I think Rick Bragg is getting a raw deal given the rules he was told to work under. But I can't muster much sympathy since the Times represents the height of journalitic goody-goodieness and arrogance. But, if we're going to go down this road. Let me first reveal that I rely on my couch for a great deal. It is the wind beneath my wings. If by "wind" you mean reinforced furniture and by "wings" you mean, well, you know.
Posted at 05:00 PM
ARISTOTLE V. BUDDHA [Jonah Goldberg]
Andrew - Maybe an ancestor read Aristotle. Get in touch with him or her and have them explain him to ya.
Posted at 04:55 PM
NAVEL GAZING [Andrew Stuttaford]
Jonah, there's no doubt that the assumptions used to define political affiliation differ considerably between the UK and the US, but don't blame Britain for the logic behind some of the 'alternatives' offered in that questionnaire - Absurdistan looks like a more candidate. Mind you, there was some rough sense (I suppose) in the results - I was more to the right than the left and more libertarian than authoritarian. The result? I ended up in a quadrant without, it appeared, any (identified) inhabitants, much like the Delta Quadrant before Janeway...OK, Kathryn, OK. Of course, these quizzes can be fun for what they claim to uncover. I did one that revealed hitherto unsuspected Buddhist tendencies. Another showed me to be a follower of Aristotle. Who knew? Intrigued, I considered reading some Aristotle. Then I thought, no, why bother?
Posted at 03:21 PM
CHRISTIANS AND "AFFIRMATION" [John Derbyshire]
New to me, and making a rather good point, this came in from a reader: "A brief comment on your recent Corner posting about Charles Bradlaugh and 'non-religious affirmation.' While it was no doubt motivated by atheism in Bradlaugh's case, there are Christian groups that do not believe in swearing oaths on the Bible and would also use affirmation in this case. The Mennonites, my own denomination, is the only one I'm familiar with, though there may be others. The principle comes from Jesus' words (and I'm paraphrasing here) 'Let your yes be yes and your no no.' In our view, there's no need to swear an oath on the Bible because we are already supposed to be telling the truth. I guess it's sort of like when a politician starts a sentence with 'Honestly...' Makes you wonder if he hadn't been honest before."
Posted at 03:20 PM
TO EVERYONE WHO'S WRITTEN [Ramesh Ponnuru]
to me about my recent postings on the GOP, gay rights, and social conservatives, and on Don Devine and NR: I'll try to respond soon to all of you; if I can't do individual e-mails, I'll do something online. I'll get on it as soon as we've put this issue of NR to bed. Thanks to all for the feedback.
Posted at 03:16 PM
DISHONEST [Ramesh Ponnuru]
The cover of the New Republic has Bush's picture and the line, "He's Still Lying: Jonathan Chait on Bush's Most Dishonest Tax Cut Yet." It's not a bad article. It's quite convincing in making the claim that Bush's Keynesian rhetoric doesn't square with the tax bill that he got Congress to enact. It makes a reasonable argument that the supply-side effects of the bill will be small--although I am less convinced of this point. What the article does not do is establish that Bush is lying. Does Bush not believe that his plan would stimulate the economy and create one million jobs? The most common argument for the "dishonesty" of Bush's tax cut is that its revenue impact is being lowballed--since its provisions are supposed to expire but will in all likelihood be extended. But that's just not dishonest. The projections were made for the period the bill actually cuts taxes--which is entirely defensible. When Congress actually extends the tax cuts, it will incur, and debate, additional "costs." Chait may think the tax cut was irresponsible public policy. But his long piece does very little to establish its dishonesty.
Posted at 02:19 PM
AW SHUCKS [Jonah Goldberg]
Getting a lot of nice attaboys from professors, students and the like about NRO's impact and role on campuses. Just imagine the feedback if schools were actually in session. Here's one from a guy at Harvard:
Posted at 01:59 PM
YOU CAN STOP LOOKING NOW [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
Jonah, was it me or did Wolf Blitzer not even crack a smile at your "taking your sister to the prom" line? At least Suzanne Malveaux laughed.
Posted at 01:01 PM
QUICK, LOOK! [KJL]
Some dude name Jonah Goldberg is on CNN
Posted at 12:46 PM
CAN I GET UP NOW, PLEASE, SIR? [John Derbyshire]
I am sorry, sorry, SORRY for the implicit misinformation in my previous posting. There is OF COURSE no such thing as "the Mafia."
Posted at 12:39 PM
OUR DEMOCRATS AND BRITAIN’S TORIES [John Derbyshire]
A rather odd, strangely unsatisfying take on the current problems of US Democrats and British Tories by the author of that much-praised new book about the making of the King James Bible I was pleased to see, though, that he brought up the name of the colorful Victorian atheist Charles Bradlaugh. There is a statue of this gentleman--the only one anywhere, I am willing to bet--in my home town of Northampton, England. Bradlaugh (1833-91) was elected to Parliament by the people of Northampton (who, I regret to say, have strong bolshie tendencies), but was not allowed to take his seat because he refused to swear the new Member's oath on the Bible. A new election was held, with exactly the same result. A third election was held; Bradlaugh won yet again, and the authorities yielded, admitting him to Parliament on a non-religious "affirmation." Bradlaugh was quite a character. On the hustings he used to begin an address by taking out his pocket watch and declaring: "God! You have thirty seconds in which to strike me dead!"
Posted at 12:34 PM
RE: SWORD OF JUSTICE [John Derbyshire]
Jonah: Names can be misleading. One of the most ruthless and bloodstained Mafia bosses of the generation before last rejoiced in the name "Agniello Dellacroce," which means "Little Lamb of the Cross."
Posted at 11:33 AM
ATTENTION PRIME OBSESSION FANS [John Derbyshire]
I have now had enough reader reponses to my book Prime Obsession to start building up a list of FAQs (i.e. frequently-asked questions). This is an ongoing project & I shall add to it as required. Many thanks to all who e-mailed in.
Posted at 11:32 AM
THE ANSWER TO JOE BIDEN… [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
…and all the others who blast Iran-regime-change talk as “biting off more than we can chew” (Biden on Today today) or some other excuse:
That’s the straight-shooting truth from our Michael Ledeen. Read the whole thing, if you haven’t, here.
Posted at 11:28 AM
BERKOWITZ ON STRAUSS [Stanley Kurtz]
The latest version of the vast-right-wing-conspiracy theory features Leo Strauss and those influence by his thought. Political theorist, Peter Berkowitz has a very nice piece (as Jonah mentioned over the weekend) explaining who Strauss is and why the wild charges against him are false. For longer and more nuanced treatment of Strauss, and a refutation of the charges often leveled against him, you can turn to two other pieces by Berkowitz, “The Reason of Revelation: The Jewish Thought of Leo Strauss” and “Liberal Zealotry,” Berkowitz’s critique of Political Scientist Stephen Holmes, one of the most prominent critics of Strauss. For web access to Berkowitz’s many thoughtful articles, go here.
Posted at 11:25 AM
GWB, "DRY DRUNK" [John Derbyshire]
Far, far-left Katherine van Wormer has psychoanalyzed our President.
Posted at 11:25 AM
EUROVISION SONG CONTEST [John Derbyshire]
Andrew: ...although, of course, having raised the name of Max Bygraves, one is confronted yet again with the age-old mystery, still--so far as I know--unresolved in spite of the diligent researches of generations of scholars: Is Max Bygraves Jewish?
Posted at 11:23 AM
POLITICAL QUIZ [John Derbyshire]
I took the thing (2.25, 2.56) but don't give it much credence. When they come up with one that can distinguish a Straussian from a Rothbardian, or a crunchy metrocon from a Bushite neocon, I'll pay attention. Incidentally, Jonah, the British for "left-wing anarch-moron" is "anorak."
Posted at 11:22 AM
CONNER PETERSON ON TEXAS MINDS [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
The Texas house of representatives voted 100-1 to advance an unborn victims of violence act this morning. Helping sway the vote was a letter from Laci Peterson’s mother—Conner Peterson’s grandmother:
[I]f the same crime had occurred in Texas, only a single homicide charge would have been permitted" without the bill, Rocha wrote, adding, "This bill is necessary to ensure that in the future, no mother who loses her baby in a criminal attack is later told by state authorities, 'We are sorry, but nobody died in that crime.'"Currently 27 states have similar laws. Congress is currently considering a bill that would give similar protections to unborn children who are killed in federal jurisdictions.
Posted at 11:10 AM
IN FACT.... [Jonah Goldberg]
Speaking of name changes, I'd forgotten I once suggested changing NRO's name to "Mobutu Sese Seko Kuku Ngbendu waza Banga." I floated that idea in a column in which I defended NRO against others who would deny its rightful place in the conservative pantheon.
Posted at 10:56 AM
NEW NAMES FOR THE SUITS? [Jonah Goldberg]
I just learned from Michael Ledeen's excellent piece on Iran that Abu Khalid Sayef al Adel means "the sword of justice." Perhaps we should assign the suits their own Arab names. If we take too long a lunch, you'll be hearing from the Sword of Justice. That sort of thing.
Posted at 10:50 AM
YEAH, YEAH: HIPUBLICANS [Jonah Goldberg]
I just finished the NY Times piece on the "Hipublicans." I'm gonna do a G-File on it tomorrow, once I'm done with everything else on my plate (namely: write my syndicated column and clean up the house before my bride comes home. Anyone have an industrial wet-vac they can lend me?).
One thing I will get off my chest now is that NRO was screwed by the piece. I have spoken to and visited and emailed with thousands of young college conservatives. I work with Young Americans Foundation and, less frequently, with ISI and the Leadership Institute (I wish it was more). These groups do phenomenal and important work and deserve every bit of the "credit" the Times back-handedly offers. But I simply know for a fact that NRO has had a huge impact on college conservatives. Student web magazines and dead tree ones alike have been modeled both on the substance and the style of NRO. Much of the discussion about conservatives behaving "normal" and speaking in the contemporary vernacular is a testament to the influence of NRO. I doubt a single one of the kids interviewed would dispute this. But in the piece, there's one passing reference to "conservative websites" while there's paragraph after paragraph about Ann Coulter and Dinesh D'Souza. Good for Ann and Dinesh (two very different people with very different roles, by the way, though you wouldn't really know that from the article).
But come on. This might sound like sour grapes, but the truth is it's pride. I'm very proud of what NRO has done and become and when some guy, trying to play the Margaret Mead of campus conservatism (and does about as good a job as she did), gives us short-shrift in order to make some lame Youth Auxillary of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy argument, it ticks me off. One theory: To say that these kids actually read, research and think on their own, rather than get "talking points" from Karl Rove would have undermined the author's thesis and make the piece far less attractive to the Times.
Anyway, you can see some of where I'll be going with this.
Posted at 10:27 AM
NR TECHIE, CONT. [John J. Miller]
I should add that when NR interns write something, we let them put their names on it. In the case of James Justin Wilson, we even let them put three names on it. Just one more reason why it's better to work here than at the NYT.
Posted at 10:12 AM
NR TECHIE [John J. Miller]
National Review's D.C. intern James Justin Wilson has a good piece on Tech Central Station today about Internet regulation.
Posted at 10:04 AM
RE: YOUR RATING [Jonah Goldberg]
Yeah, I have a theory about this test in particular. I think that because it was created by Brits -- and left wing anarch-moron Brits at that -- their political compass has a different North Pole than ours. Hence even the questions where I answer as a conservative should or would are scored incorrectly because the authors assume my motives are different than they really are. Maybe Derb or Stuttaford have an opinion on the British angle. Regardless, all I know is that too many Corner readers are getting results showing their ideological proximity to Gerhard Schroeder, which is absurd. By the way, I don't really need to know every Corner reader's test results on this thing.
Posted at 10:02 AM
MY RATING [John J. Miller]
Jonah: Agree with everything you said about those tests--so of course I took the one you mentioned. A bunch of the questions were odd, and I didn't answer many of them "strongly agree" or "strongly disagree." My "political compass," as they call it, had me plotted several clicks to the right of the vertical axis (making me a good bit more "libertarian" than "communist") and touching the horizontal axis (making me pretty evenly split between "authoritarian" and "anarchist"). None of this means anything, of course, and I became especially convinced of this when I saw that the test designers place Margaret Thatcher's views on the X-Y graph sort of close to Hitler's.
Posted at 08:52 AM
BRAGGING [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
If Rick Bragg is telling the truth (I assume he talked to Howard Kurtz and not Kurtz's intern), why does the Times bother with bylines? The frontpage should read on the top, Howell Raines' New York Times. Then we can all know upfront that each "news" story is likely a hodgepodge of collective staff work. Maybe, too, without other names on the pages to obscure the issue, everyone will better understand that Raines is ultimately the one accountable for the seemingly endless stream of corrections.
Posted at 08:47 AM
HOLES [John J. Miller]
They're digging silos for missile defense in Alaska. Here's an update from the Washington Post, complete with comments from the local village idiot and news about how getting out of the ABM Treaty is making one community's library a little bit bigger.
Posted at 05:53 AM
Monday, May 26, 2003
POLITICAL COMPASS [Jonah Goldberg]
Every year or so I cave in and take one of these ideological quizzes. I hate them. The questions are loaded. The results are annoying and the explanations infuriating. And yet, they are so seductive.
Posted at 11:12 PM
MEMORIAL ACTS [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
Michelle Malkin has a Memorial Day action-item column.
Posted at 10:20 PM
GREAT MEMORIAL DAY STORY [Jonah Goldberg]
From a reader (sometimes known as "cop guy"):
Posted at 09:33 PM
RE: EUROVISION SONG CONTEST [John Derbyshire]
Andrew: I weep to think that the nation that gave the world Cliff Richard and Sandy Shaw should have fallen so far. Just a thought, though, for next year: Last time I checked, Max Bygraves was still alive. He should do the patriotic thing, come out of retirement and save his country.
Posted at 07:09 PM
MEMORIAL DAY [John Derbyshire]
The Brit-born contingent of The Corner--myself and Andrew Stuttaford--have a double reason to honor Memorial Day. (1) If American men and women hadn't fought, suffered and sacrificed to keep this country safe and free, it wouldn't have been here for us to join the party after the barn-raising work was all done. (2) If American men and women hadn't fought, suffered and sacrificed on behalf of others, we would right now be out hoeing turnips under some Gauleiter füt Ostmittelengland. We thank them: we honor them: we cherish the memory of what they did.
Posted at 07:07 PM
THE (ALLEGED) KILLER NEXT DOOR [Rod Dreher]
Derrick Lee, the south Louisiana serial killer suspect cops are searching for, lives down the road from my family in Starhill, Louisiana, a wide spot in the road just south of St. Francisville. My sister was in school with Lee. She taught his son this year in middle school -- until Lee abruptly withdrew the boy three weeks ago, and vanished. And to think I was so relieved during the killer's spree that my family seemed safe, because the killer seemed to be doing all his work south of Starhill. My shaken sister told my dad today, when the news broke, that if Derrick Lee had come to her door, she would have let him in, because she knows him. Lee is considered armed and dangerous. Dear God, you just never know about people, do you?
Posted at 04:21 PM
TRUE CONFESSIONS [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
I prefer the Sci-Fi Channel's New Year's Day Twilight Zone marathon. (Boy is the Corner's hipness in question now....)
Posted at 03:25 PM
FYI [Jonah Goldberg]
The flying rubber vomit episode of Star Trek is now on the sci-fi channel.
Posted at 03:19 PM
FUTURE-FEDERALISM [Jonah Goldberg]
From a reader (with NCC-1701 in his email address):
While [The Original Stark Trek] was not clear on the point, my impression was that the Federation limited the death penalty to one offense, individual planets might have greater flexibility. This would be akin to a limited federal death penalty in the US with broader use at the state level.
Posted at 02:11 PM
RE: JONAH AND STAR TREK [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
And notice how nice I am being today.
Posted at 01:41 PM
MORE TREK AND DEATH PENALTY [Jonah Goldberg]
You might have noticed I am flagrantly defying the K-Lo anti-Trek General Order because today is a holiday. Anyway, it should be noted that the Federation maintained the death penalty in the original series. As we know from the episode titled "The Menagerie" General Order Number Seven forbade contact of any kind with the planet Talos 4. Violation of GO #7 was punishable by death. It was the only capital offense left on the books.
Posted at 01:14 PM
STAR TREK & THE DEATH PENALTY [Jonah Goldberg]
From a reader:
I know this is out of nowhere, but I was watching a marathon of the original Star Trek on SciFi and saw the episode in which Dr Daystrom created and installed on the Enterprise M5, the computer which could run an entire starship. M5, of course, runs amok, taking control of the Enterprise and killing hundreds on other ships in war games. M5 refuses to let itself "die."
Posted at 01:08 PM
MURTAUGH ON HERBERT [Jonah Goldberg]
Charles Murtaugh has a great post on Bob Herbert's column . Herbert is enraged that anyone anywhere get away with defying the NYC smoking ban. The Oak Bar at the Plaza has apparently exempted itself from the City's absurd policies. Murtaugh noticed that Herbert is now crediting his assistant for doing his actual legwork, something Herbert has never done before. Murtaugh rightly suspects that Herbert is covering his butt given the new realities at the Times. This could be the start of all sorts of fun because I know for a fact Herbert is hardly alone. Maureen Dowd, for example, has a minion who does much of her gruntwork for her as do many other columnists (I used to be Ben Wattenberg's researcher for example). Let the full-disclosures fly!
Posted at 12:57 PM
TREE OF LIFE? [Andrew Stuttaford]
I don’t know what to think about this. Instead of the deep freeze Ted Williams could have been reincarnated as a baseball bat, I suppose.
Posted at 12:39 PM
UDAY IS A BAD MAN [Jonah Goldberg]
A horrifying and riveting account in Time magazine.
Posted at 12:26 PM
COLONEL COLLINS (MORE) [Andrew Stuttaford]
It looks as if the Colonel may be on his way to vindication. Sadly, there's no doubt, however, that this contretemps has stirred up some Anglo-American tension, of which this article is a sometimes sensible, sometimes petulant, example.
It is to be hoped that the facts of this case allow the whole tawdry affair to be forgotten quickly. What should be remembered is the bravery, professionalism and sacrifices of the troops - American and British - in the Iraq war. They were a credit to themselves, their countries and this finest - and most enduring- of alliances.
Posted at 12:05 PM
RETURN OF THE IDOL [Andrew Stuttaford]
According to this report in the Independent, the authorities in Berlin are contemplating re-erecting a statue of a former tyrant, a mass-murderer who is a disgrace to history. No, not the one with the toothbrush moustache, but the one with the beard, the killer who gave himself the name Lenin. Apparently – and disgustingly – “Berlin’s Communist past has become more fashionable.”
I saw the statue in question before it was taken down. To be frank, it was impressive in a boot stamping on the face of humanity forever sort of way. The Independent’s correspondent sees the original removal of the statue “as a symbol of the West’s willful destruction of East Germany’s identity”. Apparently we are meant to think that this was a bad thing.
But why stop there? After all, in 1945 the West took part in the “willful destruction” of the Third Reich’s identity, something that, logically, ought to still pain the Independent. There are, I’m sure, still a few old Hitler statues lying around somewhere in Germany.
Should they be put up again too?
Posted at 11:54 AM
AMERICA THE BAD [Andrew Stuttaford]
This piece is worth reading as an example of where the more eloquent members of Europe’s anti-American left now stand. However, before reading this article, sit down, take whatever blood pressure medication you are on and pour a stiff drink.
For those that don't know, the writer, Martin Jacques, is a former editor of Marxism Today, a fact which should surprise nobody.
Posted at 11:53 AM
EUROVISION - THE POST-MORTEM [Andrew Stuttaford]
From the Guardian:
“Louis Walsh, a judge on the ITV talent show Popstars and a veteran pop band manager, said: "It's like somebody went into Boots [a pharmacy chain], found the first person they saw behind the counter, asked them if they could sing and they said 'no', but they picked them anyway…
Meanwhile, Jemini embarked on an intensive period of promotion for their losing record, which is released today. With Britain's famed capacity to favour the underdog, their failure may yet be the key to future success; coming last may prove much more lucrative than finishing third or fourth.
The group's female member, Gemma Abbey, said: "Nul points - there you go, maybe that's what we should change our name to."
The Guardian’s report also contains a brief survey of previous entrants that have failed to score any points. Amongst the low lights a Belgian singer by the name of Fud Leclercq (no laughing in the back of the class, yes, Jonah, that means you), a Finn called Kojo who sang an environmentalist ditty while hitting himself on the head, a habit that may have explained his political beliefs in the first place. Swiss tap-dancer Gunvor Guggisberg was awarded nul points for his efforts in 1998, but Norway retains its role as the land of Eurovision strike outs, the “most notorious” of their four nul-pointers was, according to the Guardian, "Jahn Teigen, who in 1978 performed a song called Mile After Mile. His routine included doing the splits in mid-air while snapping his braces. Teigen called his Eurovision failure "the proudest moment of my life" and anticipated it would make him a star. It did not and he now owns a brewery.”
Well, there are worse fates.
Posted at 11:52 AM
COLONEL COLLINS [Andrew Stuttaford]
More on this sad business.
Posted at 11:51 AM
EU CONSTITUTION: THE SHAME CONTINUES [Andrew Stuttaford]
Well, here’s a surprise. Tony Blair may not want Brits to vote on the proposed EU ‘constitution’, but its architect seems to disagree.
Posted at 11:50 AM
DREW AND THE NEOCONS [Jonah Goldberg]
Elizabeth Drew has a long piece in the New York Review of Books on "the neocons." Trust me, I'm not going to get into the weeds on this again, but it's worth noting that in the context of her article, the neocons are all the most right-wing figures in government. In other words to be right-wing -- at least from the NYRB crowd -- is to be a neocon, which is precisely the opposite argument from the self-proclaimed denizens of the far right. Also, on a more pedantic front. Ms. Drew writes that Richard Perle "has held only one government position—that of an assistant secretary of defense during the Reagan administration" in the same paragraph that she says Perle once served on Sen. Henry "Scoop" Jackson's Senate staff. One of us needs to check the constitution, but I could swear that working for the Senate (a co-equal branch of government) constituted working for the government.
Posted at 11:19 AM
EUROVISION: THE SHAME CONTINUES [Andrew Stuttaford]
The darkest hour in Britain’s long history – last weekend’s Eurovision humiliation in Riga - has been put down by many (including me) to resentment over the UK’s support for the Iraq war, a worrying geopolitical development given that many of the voters were from the ‘New Europe’. However, I have to admit that, ahem, I had never actually heard the British entry, something that makes this e-mail (from John in Dublin) deeply, deeply disturbing:
“Writing from Dublin, I can tell you that Britain's zero points were actually justified. Their act was AWFUL! The lead singer was so off key that it was painful to watch. And, the song was terrible too.
In Ireland, and across much of Europe now, the voting is done by phone. That means that it was Ireland's children, who, for the most part, voted zero points for the UK entry. I sincerely doubt that the children's lack of votes for the British song had much to do with the war.”
I suspect that John may well have a point.
Posted at 09:43 AM
MICKEY MOUSE AS YOUR BEST MAN [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
Couples having Magic Kingdom weddings:
Just as important, couples are shedding their inhibitions and indulging their inner Goofy. "So many traditions are going out of life that people are creating their own," said David Popenoe, a professor of sociology at Rutgers University and co-director of the National Marriage Project, which analyzes marriage trends. "Consider the Elvis wedding in Las Vegas or even this. Obviously Disney has ingrained itself in our minds."
Posted at 09:11 AM
DIIULIO ON BENNETT [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
John DiIulio has a defense of Bill Bennett in the Washington Post today:
So let me make a final bet on Bennett. The ex-high roller has never pretended to be a holy roller, but, at least as I see him, his God-given gifts as an intellectual, a public communicator and a political figure pale by comparison to his deeper spiritual being and potential. I bet that, in the end, it matters not whether he loses power, position or paydays, or whether some former friends and supporters abandon him.
Posted at 08:54 AM
IRAN [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
It's remarkable to see how shocked the media seems to be, if you've flipped on the cable channels in the last 24 hours, to learn that Iran's mullahs are bad guys. Had they just been reading Michael Ledeen....
Posted at 08:53 AM
I NEVER THOUGHT ABOUT IT... [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
Greg Kelly on FNC was just talking about the "storming" of the shores of Camp Lejeune later today by the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit. Marines certainly know how to do a homecoming... (Forgive me if that was the ultimate chick Memorial Day comment.)
Posted at 08:50 AM
HOMELAND SECURITY REPORT [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
Seeing the NYPD, reservist, and Fleet Week presence I saw on the way to the office (NRniks working on your next issue if NRODT (you subscribe, don't you? you don't?! Go for it--subscribe now!), I'd wager that NYC is probably the safest city in the world this Memorial Day.
Posted at 08:29 AM
IN FURTHER DEFENSE OF MIME [John Derbyshire]
Posted at 08:19 AM
MEMORIAL DAY [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
Today there's no update of the main site, but check in here for holiday postings. Meanwhile, if you missed any of Friday or last week's content, check out the NRO homepage. Hanson, Stuttaford, Ponnuru, Frum, Robbins, Miller, Taheri, Whitney, Lacey, Klinghoffer, Milton, and many more.
Posted at 03:37 AM
Sunday, May 25, 2003
ROSWELL (2) [Andrew Stuttaford]
In response to that post on Roswell, a reader e-mails in with this:
“The Simpsons attend a local science fiction convention. In one section of the auditorium is a series of tables with people signing books. There are huge lines in front of one table with a Star Trek actor and a man in a Godzilla suit. Next to them is Neil Armstrong, being completely ignored. His agent, utterly dumbfounded, yells at the people the line, "People, this man has actually beenin outer space!" One of the people (Mrs. Krabappel) replies, "Ha! Nobody cares." “
Sadly so. Just don’t tell the (much wronged) Buzz Aldrin – he’ll punch your monocle out.
Posted at 10:49 PM
JANET RENO (2) [Andrew Stuttaford]
A reader writes in with a good point. Reno’s refusal to authorize that raid on Bin Laden’s compound could, in part, have been a product of the (well-deserved) criticism she had to go through after the Waco debacle. It’s another reason that she should have ‘taken responsibility’ for Waco the old-fashioned way – and resigned.
Posted at 10:46 PM
MONOCLE WATCH [Andrew Stuttaford]
I’ve always been tempted by the idea of wearing a monocle, but as I can’t really see well out of either eye, it just wouldn’t be efficient. Nevertheless, there’s an interesting article on this important topic in last week’s issue of the London Spectator . Here’s an extract:
“Different styles of monocle carry moral nuances. A rimmed eyeglass with cord attached is generally worn by an Englishman, who may be playing the silly ass but is actually a formidable man of action. A rimless monocle is more sinister and is likely to be worn by a Teutonic villain. The traditional English version is rimmed, with a ‘gallery’ — two extensions of the rim designed to fit into the upper and lower eye-socket, making the lens stand out to avoid friction with the eyelashes. A high-tech innovation is the ‘sprung gallery’, which adjusts to fit the eye and may one day become respectable. Recently I have detected a deplorably macho tendency among acquaintances who wear the rimless lens to adopt the patronising view that ‘real men don’t wear a gallery’. One treats such Junker posturing with disdain.
An eyeglass worn on a broad ribbon is Gallic and, therefore, degenerate. Marcel Proust acknowledged this in À la recherche, when he described how the monocle of M. de Saint-Candé caused him to be ‘preferred to the most handsome looks in the world by snobbish and depraved young women whom it set dreaming of artificial charms and the refinement of sensual bliss’.”
Snobbish and depraved young women? Well, one can only condemn the snobbery.
Gerald Warner, the writer of this splendid article, continues as follows:
“P.G. Wodehouse, a more significant writer than Proust, and gifted with a more profound insight into the human condition, is the author whose characters are most commonly portrayed with eyeglasses.”
And a pox on you, De Villepin.
The other interesting revelation in this piece (and timely too – given their prominence in The Matrix) is the fact that the late emperor Nero was, in some senses, the spiritual father of those finest of fashion accessories – sunglasses. Apparently he liked to reduce the sun’s glare by watching the gladiatorial games through an emerald.
From Nero to Neo in only two thousand years – there’s progress for you.
Posted at 10:42 PM
GUERILLA PARENTING [Andrew Stuttaford]
Time to act?
Posted at 10:38 PM
EU CONSTITUTION WATCH [Andrew Stuttaford]
The UK’s Sun may not always be the most weighty news source, but this list of reasons (reprinted on Front Page magazine) why the UK should not sign up for ‘Diamond’ Giscard’s EU constitution makes compelling reading.
Meanwhile, a senior Tory shows that, in some circles at least, the party has not lost its death wish. Somebody called Ian Taylor is saying that the idea was “not only an offence to parliamentary democracy, it is a populism that makes William Hague look cautious.”
The EU Constitution? Er, no. The idea that the British people should not be allowed to have a vote on it.
Via Airstrip One.
Posted at 10:36 PM
NOT JUST VDH [John J. Miller]
K Lo, The Boston Globe profile of VDH is nifty--all his fans should read it. They should also check out the section of the Globe in which the piece appeared. It's called Ideas, and it runs each Sunday. The Globe launched it last fall, and I make sure to read it every week. There's always something of interest. So check it out, and get your bookmark ready. (Full disclosure: The editor, Alexander Star, is an old New Republic colleague of mine, and I wrote a piece for Ideas in February on the Chinese space program.)
Posted at 03:24 PM
STUTTAFORD'S POSTS [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
Dontcha love the weekend?
Posted at 01:52 PM
THE QUEEN'S, UM, POEM [Andrew Stuttaford]
Although we must leave you, Fair Castle of Mey, We shall never forget, Nor could ever repay, A meal of such splendour, Repast of such zest, It will take us to Sunday, Just to digest. To leafy Balmoral, We are now on our way. But our hearts will remain at the Castle of Mey. With your gardens and ranges, And all your good cheer, We will be back again soon So roll on next year'.
De Villepin could never have written that.
Posted at 01:45 PM
D'OGGEREL [Andrew Stuttaford]
Here’s an extract from Susannah Herbert’s piece in today’s Sunday Telegraph on French foreign minister De Villepin and, um, poetry:
“De Villepin cites as his ideal hero-poet Arthur Rimbaud - the patron saint of misunderstood adolescents in bed-sits around the world. His potted biography gives the general flavour - drugs, drink, doomed homosexual passion, gun-running in Africa, early death from syphilis. Villepin also names Franois Villon, mediaeval murderer on the run. And speaks highly of Gerard de Nerval, the proto-Surrealist and founder member of the Club des Hachichins, who hanged himself from a window-grating in drug-addled despair at the condition of the world.
Villepin also admires the certified madman Antonin Artaud, whose late work, characterised by delusions, hallucinations, glossolalia and violent anti-American tantrums, has been described as "a heretic's scatalogical tirade at the extreme of the linguistic lunatic fringe". According to de Villepin, both de Nerval and Artaud have been misunderstood: "They were not mad, but prophets. They saw what others did not see, their cries were luminous."
De Villepin's pronounced preference for luminous cries from the outer frontiers of intelligibility should come as no surprise to students of his political oratory - he is given to pronouncements like "I believe in the power of the truth of language" and "If there is no indignation behind the State, it doesn't work" - but it does much to explain the conduct of French foreign policy over recent months. Jacques Chirac is a bulldozer, one of the President's political friends told the Wall Street Journal recently. "And when a bulldozer is driven by a poet, the result is bound to be catastrophic."
In the same spirit, we may laugh at the Queen's attempts at rhyme, but we should also be profoundly grateful for the banality of the dominant poetical influences on our head of state: a dash of A A Milne, a hint of William McGonagall, a flavour of Patience Strong. They may sit lower than Rimbaud, de Nerval and indeed, M de Villepin, on the slopes of Mount Parnassus - but at least they're not nuts.”
Meanwhile in a recent letter to the London Spectator (May 17th), Philip Skelsey recalls hearing a talk by George Orwell back in 1942. He concludes as follows:
“I remember nothing else of what Orwell said, only his appearance – gaunt, hollow-cheeked, just as he appeared in photographs – and in his manner: analytical, gently detached but not condescending.”
England and France – two very distinct civilizations divided by a narrow strip of sea.
Posted at 01:37 PM
THE BOSTON GLOBE ON VDH [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
Posted at 01:28 PM
WAR CRIMINAL? [Andrew Stuttaford]
Colonel Tim Collins, the British officer who made that stirring speech on the eve of battle in Iraq is now being accused of war crimes. Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, Kevin Myers comes up with some background.
Posted at 01:05 PM
EUROVISION UPDATE [Andrew Stuttaford]
Britain humiliated. Payback for Iraq from the UK's European 'friends'? The British entry received no votes. Not one.
Posted at 12:37 PM
MARS APPROACHES! [Andrew Stuttaford]
And Britain is going to check it out.
Posted at 12:29 PM
A SURPRISE [Andrew Stuttaford]
I'm sitting here watching Amityville: The Demon, not, alas, in the original 3-D. One of the minor characters? Meg Ryan.
She has just suggested a seance and so is, almost certainly, doomed...
Posted at 12:16 PM
A BIGOT IN BASRA [Andrew Stuttaford]
Down in Basra, meanwhile, another bigot has been put in a position of power.
“The cleric appointed to run the educational system in Basra, Ahmad al-Malek, declared that female teachers would not be allowed to receive their emergency salary payment if they appeared without a head scarf.”
Posted at 12:13 PM
A BIGOT IN BAGHDAD [Andrew Stuttaford]
While on the topic of superstitious cretins, here’s another example of another, although he’s a good deal less benign (and, probably, quite a bit smarter) than the misguided showbiz mystics. 'Sheikh’ al-Fartusi is a Shiite militant now making a grab for power in part of Baghdad.
Al-Fartusi told the New York Times that “he was particularly concerned about the sale of alcohol, which he insisted is forbidden under Christianity and Judaism. "Islam and all religions forbid alcohol...Only the atheists from Christianity drink.” When informed otherwise, Sheik Fartusi was cheerfully dismissive and defended his recent religious rulings that ban alcohol, require all men to grow beards and condemn all women who chat with foreign soldiers here as prostitutes. “I’m just ordering what God ordered,” he said. “I didn’t forbid Christians or Muslims from taking a walk under the trees…””
No, buddy, you take a hike.
Posted at 12:09 PM
HOCUS POCUS WATCH [Andrew Stuttaford]
I am, I have to confess, completed mystified by mysticism – or, at least, its appeal. Still, there’s no doubt that certain mystical traditions have a long and relatively respectable pedigree. Probably that’s quite true of the Kabbalah, but not, I suspect, in the way apparently practiced by Madonna and other showbiz types.
“Models Jerry Hall and Naomi Campbell both wear the red bracelets the Kabbalah recommends to ward off negativity”
Oh, good heavens.
“Kabbalah products are sold, including skincare treatments at around GBP 50 each and Kabbalah mineral water with ‘centuries of wisdom in every drop’.
Middle Ages redux or Madonna deals with middle age? You decide. It sounds like complete bunkum to me.
Posted at 11:34 AM
IN DEFENSE OF LEO STRAUSS [Jonah Goldberg]
Posted at 11:16 AM
UNFINISHED BUSINESS [Andrew Stuttaford]
Is Afghanistan better off now than it was under the Taliban? Of course it is. And Rome, let alone an entire country, was not rebuilt in a day. Nevertheless, as this report from the Observer shows, there’s still a great deal to do.
And it’s not clear if anyone is doing it.
Posted at 11:11 AM
DON'T CALL FTD [John J. Miller]
The world's largest flower has bloomed in Germany. It looks like a phallus and smells like a corpse.
Posted at 05:57 AM
ROSWELL [Andrew Stuttaford]
My piece on Area 51 (on NRO this weekend) produced a response from a reader who recently returned from Roswell, New Mexico, hometown of another UFO myth. He notes that Roswell was, for a while, also the home of Robert Goddard, the father of American rocketry. Apparently, there’s a museum there with a wonderful exhibit dedicated to Goddard. The reader writes that, unlike the UFO museums, it was deserted. What a shame. I fear I’m guilty of this crime too. Years ago (1995) I went to Roswell for NRODT (the piece isn’t online) and the UFO exhibits were all that I visited.
My correspondent’s e-mail also contains this marvelous recollection:
“I once sat at the table with a man who had witnessed the first reconnaissance use of an airplane by the US Army, searching for Pancho Villa after the Columbus, New Mexico raid, while across the table was Jack Schmidt, one of the last two men on the moon.”
That’s a story that’s too good not to share.
Posted at 12:39 AM
EUROVISION WATCH [Andrew Stuttaford]
Ross, a reader from across the Atlantic, e-mails in with this update:
"I was watching it this evening, because it can be hilarious. The quote of the night came from Terry Wogan [any British readers will know who he is]:
"Belgium have four different languages to choose from, so naturally they're singing in a made up one, it sums up the spirit of the Euro really."
Well not quite: Belgium has three official languages - but who cares?
Posted at 12:38 AM
EU CONSTITUTION [Andrew Stuttaford]
The Labour Party’s Peter Hain claims it’s just a tidying up exercise – well, check out Article 9.
Posted at 12:34 AM
EVIL MIMES [Andrew Stuttaford]
A reader writes pointing out an aspect of Terry Pratchett’s Diskworld books (which I’ve never read, I’m ashamed to say). Apparently, “the Patrician of Ankh Morpork, the Diskworld's largest city, rules with a light hand for the most part. (The Patrician rules by the principle of One Man, One Vote. The Patrician is the Man and he has the Vote.) The Patrician agrees with you about the evil nature of mime. One of the few things he absolutely forbids is street mimes. Street mimes caught in the act are fastened, upside down, to the side of the Scorpion Tank for the brief remainder of their lives, and across from them is a sign saying: ”Learn the Words.””
Ha ha ha.
Posted at 12:26 AM
PYGMIES [Andrew Stuttaford]
Thanks to the reader who sent me this link.
“About 750, mostly Uruguayan, UN peacekeepers are stationed there, but they do not have the authority to use lethal force.”
This looks like a lot like Rwanda, but, in a more encouraging sign, Kofi Annan, the UN Secretary-General, has asked France to lead an emergency force to stabilize the region. To France’s credit, the French have agreed to do so.
Posted at 12:24 AM
MIME [Andrew Stuttaford]
A post on the evil of mimes also produced a good response and even better jokes ("hasn't the UN banned land mimes?"). One reader wrote in linking Jessica Lange’s political views with the fact that she studied mime. And where did she do this? Paris.
Posted at 12:21 AM
RETURN OF THE MINI [Andrew Stuttaford]
The car, not the skirt. I’m not a car guy, but the Mini was always something else. When I was a small child back in the mid-1960s we had a Mini Cooper S, gray (as I recall) and with a white roof – and it was something else: the last great British car, and the final word in chic as we Austin Powered our way through the conurbations of my home county – Clippesby, Oby, Scratby and Thurne. It’s good to see it's back even if the Mini is now, ahem, German.
Posted at 12:21 AM