Tuesday, July 06, 2004

WHERE TO GO FOR WAFFLE AND GRITS COVERAGE [KJL]
Say it ain't so, Hugh. Hugh Hewitt, on the air earlier, confessed to me he hadn't yet discovered the Kerry Spot. You really will be a more well-rounded, informed person once you make it part of your daily diet. I know Hugh will be checking in now (especially when he discovers Jim linked to him today), I know you won't be sorry if you do, too.

Posted at 08:12 PM

EXCUSE ME, I WAS SLEEPING [KJL]
When did Alf make a comeback?

Posted at 08:06 PM

ALVAREZ-MACHAIN REVISITED [Jonathan H. Adler]
Upon further consideration of the various opinions in Sosa v. Alvarez-Machain, one of the Supreme Court's more important (if less discussed) end-of-term decisions, I'd revise my initial comment. The Supreme Court correctly rejected Alvarez-Machain's lawsuit, but may left the door open to further mischief under the Alien Tort Statute (aka the Alien Tort Claims Act). I hope to have a piece discussing the case in detail within the next few days.

Posted at 07:21 PM

HOLMES SQUEAKS THROUGH [Jonathan H. Adler]
President Bush's nomination of J. Leon Holmes to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas squeaked through with 51 votes. Although Holmes is backed by both Arkansas Senators, some Republicans broke ranks, including Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison. Surprisingly, though, Senator Arlen Specter supported the President's pick.

Posted at 06:45 PM

JUDGE CONFIRMED [KJL]
Another People for the American Way target, Leon Holmes, was confirmed to the federal bench the president nominated him for 17 months ago, was just confirmed by the Senate, 51-46

Posted at 06:38 PM

LOWER STANDARDS FOR PRESIDENTS [Jonah Goldberg ]

Matt Yglesias carries some water for Paul Krugman and Michael Moore. Krugman wrote:

There has been much tut-tutting by pundits who complain that the movie, though it has yet to be caught in any major factual errors, uses association and innuendo to create false impressions. Many of these same pundits consider it bad form to make a big fuss about the Bush administration's use of association and innuendo to link the Iraq war to 9/11. Why hold a self-proclaimed polemicist to a higher standard than you hold the president of the United States?

Yglesias gets Krugman's back, writing:


That's exactly right. What's more, the absurdity here is that the president is being held to a lower standard precisely because he's the president. George W. Bush is an important person, if you go write an article or do a television broadcast for a major media outlet stating flatly -- and perfectly accurately -- that the president's rhetorical strategy is to use association and innuendo to create false impressions, there will be consequences. Say the same thing about Michael Moore, and you're being a good journalist correcting the record. Thus, it's okay for the president to play fast and loose with the facts, but God forbid a left-wing documentarian is allowed to get away with it.

Me:There are two problems with this. First, Krugman's dishonest when he refers to "pundits." What pundits? Gwen Ifill? Richard Cohen? William Raspberry? Nick Confessore? All of these pundits have criticized Moore's tactics. The last two don't mind them that much. The first two do. But do any of the four consider it "bad form" to criticize the president's case for war? Show me some evidence of that.

Second, Yglesias wasn't in the game during the Clinton presidency. Nevertheless it is amusing to find a liberal who bemoans a president who benefits from being held to a lower standard and who gets to play fast and loose with the facts. I mean we never saw anything like that in the 1990s.


Posted at 06:04 PM

RE: BSE TESTING [Jonathan H. Adler]
I generally agree with Jonah that meat producers should be allowed to test for BSE and advertise that fact. More broadly, I believe food safety overall would be improved were there less reliance on USDA testing, and companies were forced to compete on safety -- that is, if companies could seek competitive advantage by ensuring greater levels of safety and sanitation in the production process. All of this is foreclosed under existing regulations, and would be the likely, if not inevitable, result of allowing one company to test for BSE. No doubt, this worries the folks at USDA. If they allow one company to test for BSE, then they will have little basis upon which to prevent other companies from adopting other (more meaningful) tests or safety procedures.

I would raise two other points that Jonah may wish to address. First, the need for widespread BSE testing is close to zero. The risk posed by BSE is infinitessimal compared to that posed by other food-borne illnesses. Yet because BSE is more mysterious and bizarre, it receives all of the attention. Thus there is an argument that allowing a company to grandstand on the BSE issue disserves public health because it focuses our attention (and resources) on an inconsequential health threat, while other -- far greater -- threats remain in the food supply.

Second, as I understand it there is a reasaonbly high rate of false positives in BSE testing. In amny cases, an initial positive finding is later demosntrated to be erroneous. Thus, were a company to start widespread BSE testing, it is inevitable that there would be a significant number of false positives, and that these erroneous reports of BSE contamination would roil domestic beef markets and harm other producers. While I do not find this to be a compelling argument against allowing a private company to test, I think it is a point that should be addressed.

Posted at 06:03 PM

DERB-CHALABI CONNECTION [John Derbyshire]
A few days ago on The Corner, I noted the passing of English children's author Anthony Buckeridge, who wrote a series of boarding-school novels which featured two boys named Jennings and Darbishire [sic]. In his Diary in the current (7/3/04) issue of The Spectator -- not, unfortunately, included in the online edition -- Charles Moore also mourns the passing of Buckeridge, then tells us: "Buckeridge attended Seaford College in Sussex... Another old boy of the school is Ahmed Chalabi, the now beleagured head of the Iraqi National Congress..."

Moore continues: "Poor Dr. Chalabi must be needing all that cheerfulness in adversity that used to be taught by those windy cliffs. He has been subject to a fierce campaign of black propaganda from the British and American foreign policy elites which much of the press has repeated as if its truth were proved. It is suggested, for example, that his intelligence misled America into believing that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction; yet this error, if error it was, was accepted not only by America but also by the United Nations and, in effect, by UNSCOM. Dr. Chalabi is also dismissed as irrelevant because he was an exile and because he took US government financial support. Iyad Allawi, the prime minister of the newly sovereign Iraq, is an exile who formerly worked with MI6 and the CIA, had their financial backing and supplied intelligence about Saddam's WMD. But he, mysteriously, is all right. I do not know whether Dr. Chalabi is the answer to Iraq's problems, but if he is so negligible, why is so much effort put into attacking him?"

Posted at 05:46 PM

CHUTZPAH OF THE DAY [John Derbyshire]
"The North Koreans also painted a gloomy picture of relations with the United States. 'We told the Japanese delegation that between North Korea and the United States, there's no trust,' said Chung Sung-il, a North Korean Foreign Ministry official. 'The United States has to understand it needs to build trust if it wants to continue talking about nuclear weapons.'"

Oh, we need to "build trust" with a regime that's been lying through its teeth to us, and the rest of the world, for half a century.

[Thanks to the China e-lobby newsgroup for this.]

Posted at 05:43 PM

KRUGMAN VERSUS THE AP [Jonah Goldberg ]
Krugman says worst economy ever. The Associated Press says pretty much the opposite. Yeah, yeah, I know Krugman's a serious economist and there's a different focus between the two pieces. But I'd say this does highlight Krugman's biases a bit.

Posted at 04:40 PM

THE DEMOCRATS DAN QUAYLE [Jonah Goldberg]

One need not go trolling through Nexis for quotes from prominent Democrats (and pundits) insisting that Dan Quayle lacked the qualifications to be vice president. He was elected to two terms in the House and two terms in the Senate (the youngest man ever elected to the Senate from Indiana). Quayle's foreign policy credentials simply blow away Edwards' by comparison. Whether foreign policy experience was more important in the declining days of the Cold War were more or less important than in the early days of the war on terror is an interesting debate.

Neverthless, I think one quote is worth dredging up. In 1988 John Kerry got into a lot of trouble -- and eventually apologized -- for telling the following joke when asked about Quayle's qualifications:

"The Secret Service is under orders that if Bush is shot, to shoot Quayle."


Posted at 04:28 PM

SOOOOOO MANY EMAILS [Jonah Goldberg]

Like this one:

After reading your G-File and not even catching the Lionel Hutz reference until the last paragraph, I'm surprised to see that no references were included alluding to the episode where Homer used medicinal marijuana for his eyes and they all forgot to vote against the initiative to illegalize such usage. You could have said Phish would be disappointed, or called it a Homeric moment. Something...

Posted at 03:22 PM

PERFECT [Jonah Goldberg ]

From the AP:


Marijuana Advocates Forget to File for Ballot

LAS VEGAS (AP) - An initiative to legalize pot in Nevada might go up in smoke after organizers forgot to file 6,000 petition signatures by a June 15 deadline.

Clark County (search) Registrar Larry Lomax said Billy Rogers, president of the political consulting firm seeking to qualify the petition, is pleading for him to accept the 6,000 names.

"Unfortunately, the state law says they have to turn it all in by June 15," Lomax said.


Posted at 03:08 PM

YOO ON THE TORTURE MEMOS [Jonathan H. Adler]
UCal Berkely law professor John Yoo defends the infamous torture memos in today's LA Times. Yoo worked at the Office of Legal Counsel when the memos were drafted. A similar piece by University of Chicago law professors Eric Posner and Adrian Vermeule appears in the print WSJ today, but it's not online for nonsubscribers.

Posted at 02:35 PM

THE PRO USDA ARGUMENT [Jonah Goldberg]

As succinct as it gets, from a reader:

Jonah, USDA's position on 100% testing by Creekstone Farms is probably justifiable on "False Advertising" grounds. They wish to advertise 100% testing and thereby imply a guarantee of 100% BSE free product. The current technology doesn't make that possible. BSE is such a slow developing affliction and most animals are slaughtered too young for the test to offer any absolute guarantee. Older animals, i.e., dairy cows or breeding stock have a much better statistical chance of having the disease at a detectable stage when they enter the slaughter house. But that is not Creekstone's market. I doubt that USDA would object to Creekstone doing 100% testing, but not telling customers. Creekstone wishes to make (imply) a health claim about their product that current technology won't support. That's a fairly standard area of governmental interference.

Posted at 02:28 PM

BY THE WAY... [Jonah Goldberg]
Please don't conclude that simply because I'm posting about the USDA's position on voluntary BSE testing that I'm not caught up in Edwards fever. I feel the excitement too.

Posted at 02:21 PM

BSE: A COUNTER EXAMPLE [Jonah Goldberg]

From a reader:

Jonah,

I'm kind of undecided on this. It is also forbidden, for instance, for airlines to advertise their safety records or the purported superiority of their maintenance practices, even if those claims are demonstrably true. The reason? All airlines must comply with FAA safety requirements, which are supposed to guarantee a baseline level of public safety. If airlines start publicly arguing back and forth about which carrier is the safest, it suddenly makes safety an issue in the minds of fliers, makes them think/worry about it more, and thereby decreases public confidence in the safety of the entire industry.

I would imagine that the Department of Agriculture is thinking much along the same lines. Their regulations are supposed to guarantee that all meat is "safe." If company XYZ starts claiming that its meat is "safer," what does that say to the consumer about the safety of the "regular" meat and the effectiveness of D of A regulations? Is it not reasonable that demand for all meat may go down as a result? Now maybe that's a good thing, I don't know, but at least with the airlines, the thinking is that a "safety war" could make flying too expensive for many people, lead to increased numbers of lawsuits, and eventually lead to several carriers going bankrupt.

The same kinds of things could happen in the beef industry. If one company tests all their cows, and a "discount" meat producer doesn't, then even though the discounter is following government regulations, he is now open to lawsuits for not going as far as his high-priced counterparts.



Posted at 02:07 PM

BSE TESTING CONT'D [Jonah Goldberg]

I'm getting lots of interesting email from Cornerites who are cattle experts (how cool is that?). Several make some very good points, a few of which have whittled at my confidence, but no one has dealt the death blow. Quite a few have made the point that my "better mouse trap" analogy is flawed because A) it's not a better mousetrap and B) Stonecreek is fairly exceptional in that sells mostly to Japan and therefore the market forces at work are slightly different (it gets complicated, but it's a fair point).

Still nobody's been able to explain to me why a private firm shouldn't be able to do whatever it wants so long as it doesn't endanger the public. If I want to sell cattle that's truthfully labeled "100% syphillis free" or "100% from cows with pretty eyes" why should the USDA be able to tell me I can't? Sure, there might be neegative consequences for cattle markets in the short term, but they are markets nonetheless. For all I know, Volvo had a negative effect on the auto industry by increasing the safety of its vehicles. Let's assume for the sake of argument that some of those improvements weren't justified on a cost-benefit analysis. Does that give the department of Commerce the right to tell Volvo it can't sell safer cars in the US because that would create negative pressure on Chrysler or because it would misinform the public about what constitutes "safe" cars?


Posted at 02:04 PM

ON THE WATERFRONT [Jonathan H. Adler]
With Marlon Brando's passing, there's good reason to rewatch The Godfather films (by that I mean the first two, the third is a bastard step-child) and On the Waterfront. All are among the best films ever made. Moreover, as The Right Coast's Mike Rappaport reminds us, On the Waterfront's politics are quite remarkable: "The labor union is the bad guy. The Catholic priest the good guy."

Posted at 01:59 PM

PROOFREADING JOB [KJL]
A national Catholic conservative newspaper is looking for a freelance copyeditor with no less than two years newspaper-proofreading experience. If you qualify and are interested, shoot me an e-mail and I'll pass it on (with "proofreading job" in the subject line"). But please do have those creds, my friends there tell me it's a "no exception" policy.

Posted at 12:35 PM

IT'S A SURPRISE TO ME [Ramesh Ponnuru]
I didn't expect Edwards to be the pick. I figured that Kerry would resent his staying in the primaries so long, resent the media campaign to put him on the ticket, resent the comparisons. Kerry did what he thought was necessary to win the election. If I were a Democrat, I'd be pretty pumped.

Posted at 12:30 PM

BSE TESTING [Jonah Goldberg]

I was going to write my syndicated column today about the USDA's decision to prevent a private firm from testing 100% of its cows for mad cow disease (but the Edwards thing got in the way). Basically, as I understand it, Creekstone farms wants to test all of its cows for mad cow. That would make their meat more expensive but it would also give it a marketing edge against other beef sellers who cannot offer a 100% guarantee. Creekstone, which sells much of its products to Japan, was willing to take the risk of passing the extra costs to the consumer. The USDA says Creekstone cannot voluntarily test its own product in order to meet a market demand. Their rationale, basically, is that it will roil the commodities markets, mess with trade arrangements and isn't scientifically justified. The big slaughterhouses back the USDA because such a move would create market pressure for them to do likewise. There are some technical arguments on the USDA's side, but they seem unpersuasive to me.

Whether 100% testing is scientifically necessary or not strikes me as irrelevant. So does the question of what it will do to the rest of the cattle industry. From the folks I've talked to, this sounds like a sop to the meatpackers and an outrageous infringement on freemarket principles. It's like telling a firm it can't build a better mouse trap because of what it will do to international mouse trap markets. But, since I'm postponing the column, I'm open to folks who think they can persuade me otherwise.


Posted at 12:23 PM

LANGUAGE LUNACY [Jim Boulet Jr.]
So much for Senator Kerry running to the right of President Bush on language issues. John Edwards has the most specifically anti-English record of any of Kerry’s possible running mates.

Edwards told the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund in June, 2003:

[W]e need to stop differences in language and culture from interfering with good health care. I'd start with a National Medical Translation System. That means an effective, in-person translation system at every hospital in the biggest cities. For smaller cities and rural hospitals, we need a National Medical Translation Center—24 hours a day, 7 days a week, translators on call. To make this work, it'll take new incentives for doctors and nurses to become translators.
Why all this interest in translation mandates by a trial lawyer? Professional translators make mistakes. According to the January 2003 Pediatics study, “Errors in Medical Interpretation,” [warning: PDF file], 53% of the translations by professional interpreters contain at least one error “with potential clinical consequences.”

Every translation error by a hospital-paid employee can become grounds for a costly lawsuit -- something unlikely to happen if the “translator” is also a friend or family member. Here’s a slogan for their campaign: “If you think medical costs are too low, vote Kerry-Edwards in 2004.”
Posted at 12:20 PM

SPEAKING OF FRUM [Ramesh Ponnuru]
If his basic points in today's post are that America has an interest in Mexico's success and that its success would make our immigration problems much lighter, then he is obviously correct. (Note, however, that this point is already a departure from the open-borders orthodoxy. If mass immigration were really as terrific as it claims, the reduced flow of immigrants would be a regrettably byproduct of Mexican prosperity.) But promoting development in Mexico is a very long-term project, and success is, to put it mildly, not assured. If continuous mass immigration from Mexico is a problem, then shouldn't we assert some control over our borders in the interim?

Posted at 11:54 AM

SAMUEL FRANCIS [Ramesh Ponnuru]
Applying his usual standards of honesty, the paleocon columnist is suggesting that WFB, by suggesting that in retrospect the Iraq war should not have been waged, qualifies as one of David Frum's "unpatriotic conservatives." If Frum had ever said that mere opposition to the war was unpatriotic, Francis would have a point. But Frum didn't say that; he explicitly denied it; and no amount of paleocon repetition of the claim that he said it will make it true. Here's what Frum actually wrote.

Posted at 11:44 AM

ANOTHER REASON TO BOOK A ROOM ON THE NATIONAL REVIEW POST-ELECTION CRUISE [KJL]
It is not the Ms. Magazine Post-Election Cruise. Who would you rather sail the Caribbean with? Martha Burk, Eleanor Smeal and Carol Moseley Braun ("Feminist land excursions"!), etc. or Victor Davis Hanson, Rich Lowry, and Michelle Malkin, etc.? Sign up for the NR cruise here.

Posted at 11:37 AM

BOB BECKEL ON FOX [Barbara Comstock]
From the mouth of Mondale/Ferraro Campaign Manager, just on Fox News a little while ago: "Yeah, it's a liberal ticket...."

What better testimony?

This is the "all special interest ticket". The #1 senator in special-interest contributions has chosen the #1 special interest: trial lawyers.

Posted at 11:36 AM

EDWARDS AND THE INVESTOR CLASS [Ramesh Ponnuru]

Many liberals think that John Edwards had the best message of any candidate in the primaries. The core of that message was that Bush's economic values were askew. Bush, in line with conservative thinking on tax policy, has sought to end the tax code's bias against saving and investment. So he has cut taxes on dividends and capital gains and sought to increase the amount of savings not subject to multiple taxation. On Edwards's telling, Bush stands for taxing labor but not capital; he dishes out rewards to "wealth" rather than to "work."

I don't think that the Edwards message will be nearly as successful as Democrats think it will. It's not as though this were 1980, and Bush had just decided to cut taxes on capital. Bush has been able to take the positions he has taken because of the rise of the investor class over the last 20 years. I know that some Democrats want to pit small investors against big investors and against management, and have a regulatory and redistributive version of an investor-class politics. To some extent, this agenda already failed in 2002--when the circumstances for it should have been good. Besides, an Edwards-style populist campaign has to denigrate the long-term project of wealth accumulation in which increasing numbers of Americans are engaged.

But I suppose we will all find out who is right soon enough.


Posted at 11:33 AM

EDWARDS AND THE INVESTOR CLASS [Ramesh Ponnuru]
Many liberals think that John Edwards had the best message of any candidate in the primaries. The core of that message was that Bush's economic values were askew. Bush, in line with conservative thinking on tax policy, has sought to end the tax code's bias against saving and investment. So he has cut taxes on dividends and capital gains and sought to increase the amount of savings not subject to multiple taxation. On Edwards's telling, Bush stands for taxing labor but not capital; he dishes out rewards to "wealth" rather than to "work." I don't think that the Edwards message will be nearly as successful as Democrats think it will. It's not as though this were 1980, and Bush had just decided to cut taxes on capital. Bush has been able to take the positions he has taken because of the rise of the investor class over the last 20 years. I know that some Democrats want to pit small investors against big investors and against management, and have a regulatory and redistributive version of an investor-class politics. To some extent, this agenda already failed in 2002--when the circumstances for it should have been good. Besides, an Edwards-style populist campaign has to denigrate the long-term project of wealth accumulation in which increasing numbers of Americans are engaged. But I suppose we will all find out who is right soon enough.

Posted at 11:33 AM

BOWLED OVER [John J. Miller]
The Edwards pick may give Democratic Senate candidate Erskine Bowles a slight boost in North Carolina, on the assumption that he'll bring more NC Dems to the polls in November--perhaps not enough for Kerry-Edwards to top Bush-Cheney, but maybe enough to help Bowles edge past GOP congressman Richard Burr in the Senate race. On the other hand, Doug Heye of the Burr campaign made the following points to me in a phone conversation a few minutes ago: 1. This will make it harder for Bowles to stay away from the Democratic national ticket, which is something he's been trying to do; 2. The pick energizes Republicans as much as Democrats. "We've already gotten a few calls this morning from people offering to volunteer for us," says Heye; 3. Burr has nothing to fear from Edwards--even before Edwards announced that he wouldn't be running for re-election, Burr was in the race, i.e., he was originally preparing to take on the single-term senator. Looks like he's going to wind up doing that, at some level, after all.

Posted at 11:20 AM

HAPPY BELATED BIRTHDAY, CAL [John Derbyshire]
Mike DeBow has chid me for letting July 4th pass without mentioning our only President born on that day. Mike has done his bit on Southern Appeal.

Posted at 11:13 AM

MORE PASSION/ FAHRENHEIT 9/11 COMPARISONS [KJL]
"Beautiful Atrocities" blog has a roundup.

Posted at 10:50 AM

FAHRENHEIT AND THE PASSION [KJL]
About the best we can expect from those liberals who have the decency to be appalled by Michael Moore's movie is to say that he's as bad as Limbaugh. That's what Richard Corliss writes in Time's cover story. The other comparison that's making the rounds: This is the Left's version of The Passion. They're both movies, they're both popular with one side of our political divide and unpopular with the other. But how much more can really be said? Another article in Time attempts to draw out the comparison--the author isn't named (might be a web error?), but the URL suggests it may be Andrew Sullivan: "Gibson and Moore--two sides of the same coin? Absolutely." "Quibble with Moore, and he will accuse you of siding with the devil." The devil? "Both Moore and Gibson use ominous, swelling music." Cameras, too...

Posted at 10:47 AM

HILLARY FUTURES [John J. Miller]
Let's not finish the morning without reflecting on the implications of Kerry-Edwards for Hillary. A Democratic victory in the fall, of course, all but removes her from the 2008 presidential picture. (Unless she challenges in the primaries, a la Ted Kennedy in 1980--wouldn't that be fun?) If the Dems lose, however, Edwards almost certainly is vaulted into the top tier of 2008 contenders. The only thing stopping him would be an absolutely miserable performance over the next five months--something involving a physical attack Dick Cheney during the veep debate or crack smoking in public. Odds are Edwards would have been a much-talked-about guy anyway, given his second-place showing in this year's primaries. Bottom line: He ultimately may become the one guy who can stop Hillary from the Dem nomination in 2008. So it's a down-arrow for HRC today.

Posted at 10:38 AM

READING THE SIGNS [Ramesh Ponnuru]
From Saturday’s Winston-Salem Journal editorial page: "U.S. Sen. John Edwards may be campaigning aggressively for the Democratic nomination for vice president, but he's overlooked a simple gesture. Although he's flown cross country speaking for the party's likely nominee, Edwards has yet to put a 'John Kerry for President' yard sign in front of his West Raleigh home. On a recent drive down Alleghany Drive, a Journal writer found yard signs for only one federal candidate: Republican U.S. Senate hopeful Richard Burr. The signs were not in front of Edwards' house."

Posted at 10:25 AM

KERRYPICKSEDWARDS.COM [KJL]
A number of readers point out: The RNC bought http://kerrypicksgephardt.com and http://kerrypicksvilsack.com but not http://kerrypicksmccain.com.

Posted at 10:22 AM

RADIO [KJL]
I just taped a segment for Vatican Radio on Edwards and Kerry (stop laughing, Jonah)--one in an occasional series.

Posted at 10:19 AM

FOX [Rich Lowry]
I'll be on the Linda Vester show around 1:00 today.

Posted at 10:13 AM

NOT ANOTHER SPIDEY POSTING, HONEST [John Derbyshire]
This site is irresistible, at any rate for math/physics nerds. It rates movies on the awfulness of their science. (Ratings at bottom of the page.) Worst physics movie ever? THE CORE (which my son liked a lot.)

Posted at 10:10 AM

MEANWHILE [KJL]
John McCain is endorsing President Bush over on the president's relection website.

Posted at 09:39 AM

KERRY ON EDWARDS [Kate O'Beirne]
Now is "not the time for on-the-job training," (LA Times, 2/3/04). NOW is the time for on-the-job training (Pittsburgh, 7/6/04)..

Posted at 09:29 AM

COOL SITE [KJL]
http://www.kerrypicksedwards.com/

Posted at 09:25 AM

PRETTY VEEPS [John Derbyshire]
Isn't there a trend here? For each of the following ten pairs, identify the prettier one.

Kerry, Edwards
G.W. Bush, Cheney
Gore, Lieberman
Clinton, Gore
Dole, Kemp
G.H.W. Bush, Quayle
Dukakis, Bentsen
Reagan, G.H.W. Bush
Mondale, Ferraro
Carter, Mondale

Coding P, V, or T as the prettier (Prez, Veep, or Tie), I make it V-T-P-V-V-V-P-P-V-V. Seems to me there is a definite bias towards looks in the selection of veeps.

Posted at 09:23 AM

UM... [Jonah Goldberg]
Kerry's attempt to make his wife's life story a heroic won't fly if you ask me. He makes it sound like she's a boat person from East Africa or something.

Posted at 09:18 AM

RE: NY POST CONNED [John Derbyshire]
A reader: "Derb---I think you are missing one of the main points regarding the NY Post con. Media reaction to Kerry campaign conning the NY Post: 'Hee-hee, how cute! They really snookered those guys, didn't they?' Media reaction to Bush campaign conning the NY Post or any other media outlet (especially one of the liberal ones): 'How crass! How conniving! Can we really trust a man who would do something this unethical to run the country?' Three weeks of front page 'scandal' news and angry op/eds would follow. In other words, a Republican could never get away with it and the GOP knows it."

Not sure this guy's right. This particular spoof was very well calibrated to avoid any charges of being "mean-spirited" etc. Imagining the converse -- a GOP campaign putting one over on the Daily News -- I don't think even the liberals could hype it as a scandal. It's just a neat trick.

And, of course, the campaign in question can always claim, with high plausibility, that they are not responsible for journalists' guesses... "Putting out false information? Us? Prove it!"

Posted at 09:16 AM

CHEERING EDWARDS [KJL]
A reader with a different take:
With all respect to you and Jonah, but when it comes to Kerry's choice of Edwards, y'all don't know what you are talking about.

Edwards is a loser for Kerry. His choice gives Bush an instant theme: "The Flip-flopper and the Tort Lawyer." There is a not a *trace* of principle or leadership in the choice of Edwards. It is pure calculaton: crass and even contemptuous of the needs of the nation. The fact that Edwards is classified as "energetic" and "good-looking" means nothing. Edwards could not even win re-election in his own North Carolina.

I won't even mention the fact that the only people Edwards has ever led, have been juries. No executive experience whatever.

And also, Edwards voted against funding the war in Iraq. The Democrats are now the unalloyed anti-war party.

This is a very good day for Bush.

Posted at 09:13 AM

THIS IS [KJL]
John Kerry's idea of fun, I remind you. ZZZ.

Posted at 09:10 AM

kerry's announcement [KJL]
Proved that Kerry needs a little John Edwards. What a dud so far.

Posted at 09:08 AM

ADVICE FOR KERRY-EDWARDS [Jonah Goldberg]
Going by the picture on Drudge right now, John and John (or is that the other way around?) shouldn't face each other too much. Edwards has a way of puckering his lips that makes him look like he's looking to plant one on Kerry.

Posted at 08:55 AM

MORE ON WFB [Jack Fowler]
A nice adios editorial about Bill Buckley in today’s Wilmington (N.C.) Star-News.

Posted at 08:47 AM

WEB SLIGHT [John Derbyshire]
I apologize for getting this wrong. Just so everybody knows:

"Derb---I can't remember if the first movie went over it and I haven't seen the second, but in the recent cartoon and in a number of the comics, Spiderman didn't get the webs from getting bitten, he just got the strength and ability to stick to walls, the webs were some fluid-like substance he (being a junior-scientist/geek) created and wore shooters of this substance around his wrists."

Posted at 08:45 AM

NY POST CONNED [John Derbyshire]
Hee hee. The NY Post is my newspaper, and John Kerry is not my guy, but I can't help smiling at the way Kerry's people conned the Post over the Veep choice.

Although, back of the smile, there is the dull, sad realisation that our people could never be so clever and devious. I get the same feeling about the War on Terror. Not only does the Devil have all the best tunes, he has the best tricks, too.

See, the problem with us conservatives is, we're too nice. Just don't know how to think dirty.

Posted at 08:42 AM

BAD NEWS FOR BUSH -- PROBABLY [Jonah Goldberg]

I never agreed with John Miller on the wisdom of a Gephardt pick. This morning when I saw that the NY Post was saying it's Gephardt I was basically pleased. I thought Gephardt would be bad because the strongest argument for Kerry (or against Bush) is "change." Now I think change for change's sake is one of the most pernicious and intellectually vacuous sentiments in American politics. But that does not mean it's not a powerful impulse. Gephardt was not the candidate for change.

Edwards is. He's high energy. He hasn't been too infected with Potomac fever and Senatoritis. His stump schtick plays well with the populist forces in the Democratic Party and he's pretty (no serious person I know thinks Edward would have ever gotten into politics if he'd been burnt by acid as a teenager).

The downside: Edwards is among the worst choices possible if the issue this fall is national security and terrorism. He's not very sharp on foreign affairs. He has very little experience (Please, stop citing junkets to Afghanistan as a qualification!). If the Bush campaign can really make this election about national security, Edwards may not become a full-blown liability, but he might not make much of an asset either. One can be sure that the Bush team will be reminding everyone that Kerry's first pick was John McCain. And no logic which sees McCain as your first choice would then identify Edwards as the second choice -- unless, of course, the logic of winning was the only criteria.


Posted at 08:33 AM

BIRTHDAY GIFT [KJL]
Today is the president's 58th birthday. Is Edwards a gift? Not quite (at all, really). But it could have been worse. there's the McCain factor, which I don't think was all a media dream--either in McCain or Kerry's minds. Kerry could have picked someone with more distinct foreign-policy experience, like Sam Nunn, which I think would really hurt Bush. So, not that bad.

Posted at 08:25 AM

INCIDENTALLY [KJL]
Cnn is still waiting for a web announcement.

Posted at 08:18 AM

TOTALLY OFFICIAL [KJL]
The e-mail is out:
Dear Friend,

In just a few minutes, I will announce that Senator John Edwards will join me as my running-mate on the Democratic ticket as a candidate for vice president of the United States. Teresa and I could not be more excited that John and Elizabeth Edwards will be our partners in our journey to make America stronger at home and respected in the world.

You are the heart and soul of our campaign. You've shattered records and expectations every step of the way. Every time someone said you couldn't do it, you proved them wrong. Because of your incredible grassroots energy and commitment, I wanted to make the first official announcement of my decision to you -- more than one million online supporters at johnkerry.com.

I want you to know why I'm excited about running for president with John Edwards by my side. John understands and defends the values of America. He has shown courage and conviction as a champion for middle class Americans and those struggling to reach the middle class. In the Senate, he worked to reform our intelligence, to combat bioterrorism, and keep our military strong. John reaches across party lines and speaks to the heart of America -- hope and optimism. Throughout his own campaign for President, John spoke about the great divide in this country -- the "Two Americas" -- that exist between those who are doing well today and those that are struggling to make it from day to day. And I am so proud that we're going to build one America together.

In the next 120 days and in the administration that follows, John Edwards and I will be fighting for the America we love. We'll be fighting to give the middle class a voice by providing good paying jobs and affordable health care. We'll be fighting to make America energy independent. We'll be fighting to build a strong military and lead strong alliances, so young Americans are never put in harm's way because we insisted on going it alone.

I can't tell you how proud I am to have John Edwards on my team, or how eager I am for the day this fall when he stands up for our vision and goes toe-to-toe with Dick Cheney.

This is the most important election of our lifetime, and a defining moment in our history. With you by our side every day of this campaign, John and I will lead the most spirited presidential campaign America has ever seen and fight to lead our nation in a new and better direction.

Thank you,

John Kerry

Posted at 08:15 AM

ABOUT KERRY-EDWARDS 2004 [KJL]
No offense, but that's an all-lawyer ticket. As Rich mentioned yesterday, of course, the trial-lawyer-lobby money probably helped the Edwards case.

Posted at 08:08 AM

HEY, THAT'S OUR JOB [KJL]
Jack Cafferty on CNN just asked Jeff Greenfield: "What are the odds he picks someone else tomorrow?"

Posted at 07:57 AM

DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN [KJL]
John J. Miller said this to me about 10 minutes ago: "I wonder if the NY Post cover isn't some kind of fiendish head fake from Kerry camp--leak false news to enemy pub, get morning shows to buzz about veep, create 'Dewey Defeats Truman' synergy, screw a newspaper they don't like."

Posted at 07:47 AM

KERRY-EDWARDS 2004 [KJL]
Confirmed by AP and others.

Posted at 07:45 AM

OF COURSE [KJL]
Fox and Friends was displaying the NY PosT cover not so long ago...

Posted at 07:36 AM

IT'S EDWARDS [KJL]
That's what Fox is saying, crediting an "informed source."

Posted at 07:35 AM

It'S GEPHARDT [KJL]
That's what the New York Post is reporting.

Posted at 05:39 AM

ANOTHER READER SPECULATES [KJL]
"kerry is making his v.p announcement in pittsburgh, and then flying to indianapolis, why on earth would he visit indiana unless it was to present evan bayh as v.p.? if it were edwards, doesn't it make sense to go to n.c.? if it's gephardt, wouldn't you go to missouri?"

Me: Surely he doesn't have to be so predictable. Frankly I'd want to take Edwards out of the South for the big day. Of course, he could just not announce his veep choice today, which strikes me as a good move--keep teasing the media.

Posted at 05:30 AM

IT'S EDWARDS [KJL]
That's what Jim Geraghty finds on an aviation chatboard, where someone claims the Kerry plane is being repainted....are you reading the KerrySpot?

Posted at 05:26 AM

Monday, July 05, 2004

I SHOULD HAVE MENTIONED [Ramesh Ponnuru]
that I came across that first Noah column via Jacob Levy. And that I liked this Noah column, too, so this may yet be becoming a trend.

Posted at 11:40 PM

SPEAKING OF NOAH [Ramesh Ponnuru]

Like a lot of other commentators, he presents the president's March 18, 2003 letter to Congress as an example of Bush's suggesting that Saddam Hussein had a hand in 9/11.

In that letter, Bush wrote that "acting pursuant to the Constitution and Public Law 107-243 [the Iraq war resolution] is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001."

The letter starts by announcing that it has been sent in conformity with the war resolution's section 3b, which asks that the president make a determination that (among other things) the use of force against Iraq is consistent with continuing to take the necessary actions against the 9/11 plotters.

It is by no means obvious to me that saying that fighting Iraq is "consistent with continuing" to fight the 9/11 plotters amounts to saying that fighting Iraq is part of the project of fighting those plotters. The more natural construction (or so it seems to me) is that the second fight doesn't conflict with the first. That is, Congress authorized Bush to use force against Iraq if he determined that it would not hurt the fight against al Qaeda, and he determined that it would not. I'll admit that the language is not particularly clear.


Posted at 11:34 PM

ON THE OTHER HAND [Ramesh Ponnuru]
that doesn't mean Ehrenreich's columns are correct.

Posted at 11:16 PM

I AGREE WITH TIM NOAH [Ramesh Ponnuru]
that Barbara Ehrenreich is a much better columnist than Maureen Dowd or Bob Herbert. And I don't expect the title of this post to recur for a long, long time.

Posted at 11:11 PM

SURVIVAL OF THE FATTEST [Andrew Stuttaford]

One of the ways that Eastern Europeans emerging from communism are trying to make their countries attractive for foreign investment and, indeed, entrepreneurial activity generally, is low rates of corporate taxation (to a lesser extent, the Brits and the Irish do the same thing). Needless to say, this is a threat to the Franco-German high tax/high spend economic model, and so what are Paris and Berlin now trying to do? Ban this supposedly unfair competition.

Ominously, EU Monetary Affairs Commissar, no, oops, Freudian slip, sorry, ‘Commissioner’, Almunia, now seems ready to support this idea. No surprise in that, Brussels is all in favor of ‘competition’ unless, of course, there’s too much of it…


Posted at 10:49 PM

SOME FUN. [KJL]
An e-mail:
Dear K-Lo:

I always enjoy you on the Hugh Hewitt radio show and at the Corner. Do you ever feel like a baby-sitter for a bunch of unruly boy geniuses?

If I were asked to sing "God Bless the U.S.A." as Clay Aiken was, I would probably revamp the lyrics, too, if I thought of the song as a tribute to soldiers across the centuries and not just to our forefathers. His 18-year-old brother recently enlisted and I imagine he was an inspiration.

In the Kerry veepstakes, I have four thoughts:

1. The predictable choice: Dick Gephardt. When Kerry refused to cross the picket line to meet with his friends, the mayors, he showed what a high priority labor will be during his campaign. Selecting Gephardt would be consistent with that earlier signal.

2. The unpredictable choice: Max Cleland. The Ralph Reed-Saxby Chambliss campaign was the reason Teresa Heinz Kerry cited for repudiating her Republican affiliation. The Vice Presidential debate would be red meat for the Cheney-haters, among whose numbers Heinz Kerry ranks high. Obviously, I think she is playing a major role in the selection.

3. The if-I-can't-have-John-McCain-I'll-settle-for-any-old-Republican choice: The rally in Pennsylvania is to announce that Arlen Specter is becoming a Democrat and/or Kerry's V.P. choice.

4. The buy-one-get-one-free choice: Teresa for V. P. That would explain the rally in PA and the remark about having fun.

His choice will tell us a lot about Kerry and how strong he thinks his candidacy is. I look forward to reading the reactions of my favorite Cornerites.

Take good care.

Posted at 10:49 PM

SPIDEY ROUNDUP [John Derbyshire]
TOTALLY my last posting on that wretched movie.

Reader: "My favorite moment: Prof.: 'When tau is equal to zero, who can tell me the eigenvalues?' Parker: 'Point-two-three electron-volts.' Being a physicist, and watching it with physicists, all I have is one word: guf-FAW."

Me: If the screenwriter had read PRIME OBSESSION http, he'd know what an eigenvalue is.

Reader: "Dear Mr Derbyshire---You say: 'The central, fairly preposterous, premise that time travel is possible....' Of course time travel is possible; I have been able to achieve it for a number of years, travelling forward at the rate of one hour per hour. I believe Einstein showed this rate could be varied simply be changing one's velocity. As for travelling backward, I understand (actually, I don't) that certain adherents of quantum mechanics profess no theoretical impediment, although Einstein, of course, would not agree."

Me: According to Big Al (Einstein, not Sharpton), you, and me, and everything else in the cosmos, are all traveling through space-time at the same speed -- the speed of light -- for ever. It's only that the space-component of our motions and the time-component are all different. To get around THAT is some trick. Relativity allows travel into the future at a speed higher than one hour per hour (as, if we ever master it, would suspended animation), but it doesn't allow you to travel backwards. The most recent physics I have read about seems to permit travel backwards in time, but only back to the point at which time machines are invented...

Reader: "I know exactly how you feel about Spiderman's science (although I liked the rest of the movie.) The problem isn't that comic book movies only get to have one preposterous, unscientific event. The problem is that in Superman or Batman, the main character isn't a scientist. Peter Parker is a brilliant science student, Dr. Otto Octavius is some brilliant physicist who's managed to create controlled (sort of) fusion. In the first Spiderman movie, where the science was weird and outlandish, they glossed over it and didn't try to explain it (no one explained what powered the glider, what chemical strengthened the Green Goblin, how that bizarre bomb worked, etc.) In this one, on the other hand, they felt a need to provide stupid pseudo-scientific explanations for the fusion reactions, etc. (stablizing harmonics? Intelligent tentacles?,) even when they weren't relevant to the plot. There was no need to explain the weird reaction that had the power to destroy New York, or even to claim it was fusion. If they had just made things up completely, it would have made more sense."

Me: I agree that preposterous science is best left un-"explained." It should just be what Hitchcock called a McGuffin -- take it or leave it. And I repeat my point that in a good sci-fi story there should be only *one* McGuffin. If the time traveler encounters a race of telepaths in the far future, the discerning sci-fi reader feels instinctively that something is wrong. (Is this a time travel story, or a telepathy story?)

Pursuant to which: Has there ever been a good telepathy movie? I always thought Eric Frank Russell's THREE TO CONQUER would make a good one, or A.E. Van Vogt's SLAN, or Theodore Sturgeon's MORE THAN HUMAN... I'd go with Russell, for the car chase scene.

Posted at 10:43 PM

RUN, ROBINA, RUN [Andrew Stuttaford]
I’m not normally a fan of the Olympics, but here’s one contender I’d like to see do really well. Go Robina!

Posted at 10:38 PM

JAMES PINKERTON [Ramesh Ponnuru]
believes that the Republican party will succeed politically if it ditches the neocons and the social Right and cuts government spending--in other words, if it comes closer into accord with his own views. I doubt that he's right about all of this, but what most strikes me is how convenient it is. I would be very happy if the way to win votes were to cut farm subsidies, abolish HUD, etc., but I see very little evidence that it's the case, and I think that political analysts should be more careful than most of us are most of the time to keep the wish from being father to the thought.

Posted at 08:37 PM

PUT THIS FACTOID ON DEATH ROW [Ramesh Ponnuru]
Tom Lowenstein believes that 114 people have been "exonerated from death row." It's not true.

Posted at 08:29 PM

"WE'RE GOING TO HAVE SOME FUN" [KJL]
That's what Kerry said earlier, talking about an event tomorrow morning, that seemed to get people buzzing, making political analysts over analyze the word "fun." Fun sure doesn't sound like Gephardt. Doesn't feel like Vilsack (who?) either. Edwards? Surprise? Or maybe fun is something completely different...

Posted at 06:01 PM

MEDIA OUTLETS... [Rich Lowry]
...are buzzing about Kerry making a VP announcement sometime imminently, this afternoon or evening. Doesn't seem to make any sense to me, but I pass it along for what it's worth.

Posted at 05:56 PM

SO DOES THAT MEAN [Ramesh Ponnuru]
that they're expecting Kerry to have a post-convention lead of 10?

Posted at 05:18 PM

RE: PAGING LADY BRACKNELL [John Derbyshire]
Lorgnettes didn't get your attention? How about a nice pince-nez?

Posted at 05:17 PM

SIX OF THE BEST [John Derbyshire]

Posted at 05:06 PM

ABOUT TIME TOO [John Derbyshire]

Posted at 05:04 PM

HERE'S A NEW ONE [Jonah Goldberg ]
Jews invented banks in London. Thanks to the indispensible MEMRI.

Posted at 04:32 PM

PAGING LADY BRACKNELL [John Derbyshire]
All right, I failed in my efforts to re-launch a fashion for spats.

Hope springs eternal in the true conservative's breast, though. Buy a pair of these for your favorite person.

Posted at 04:14 PM

RE: SPIDEY [John Derbyshire]
sarcastic reader: "Let me get this straight... in science fiction, you can have ONE bit of highly implausible science. You didn't like Spidey, but you DID like...
"...the story where the sole survivor of an exploding planet in another solar system is rocketed to earth, and, due to earth's yellow sun, gains the powers of super-strength, super-speed, x-ray vision, heat vision, super-cold breath, super hearing, invulnerability, magic costume changes, and most importantly, the ability to put on eye glasses and hide his identity from his employer and co-workers. Then, after barely being fast enough to catch an ICBM racing across America towards Washington, D.C., he circles earth's atmosphere counter-clockwise at such great speed that time itself is reversed, just far enough back to the moment before his beloved Daily Planet reporter girlfriend was buried alive in an earthquake caused by a nuclear explosion on the San Andreas fault. And the only thing that stood in his way was a Wizard-of-Oz-like Marlon Brando dead head in the sky."

Well, I'll admit the Brando character strained credulity...

Posted at 03:56 PM

MOORE & MOVEON [Dave Kopel]
MoveOn.org is running an "astroturf" campaign in support of Fahrenheit 911. As detailed by "doubleplusungood infotainment," the MoveOn has succeeded in getting newspapers to publish pre-written form letters to the editor. Most newspapers work hard to avoid publication of such phony "grassroots" letters, which are pushed by unethical groups on all sides of the political spectrum. Smaller papers are more vulnerable to such letters, since they do not have the staff to fully investigate all suspicious letters.

Posted at 03:54 PM

KERRY TO LEAD BY AS MUCH AS 15 [Rich Lowry]
Latest from Bush pollster Matthew Dowd:
As the post-primary season winds down and Kerry's VP selection and convention approach, I wanted to share with you what we should expect polls to show in early August.

An examination of Gallup polls in presidential elections since 1976 reveals that a challenger's vice presidential selection and nominating convention can have a dramatic (if often short-lived) effect on the head-to-head poll numbers. In fact, historical analysis suggests John Kerry should have a lead of more than 15 points coming out of his convention…

1. An average of the most recent public polls shows the race is a dead heat.
2. Assuming that Kerry enjoys the average challenger's bounce[1][1] (15.4% since 1976), we should expect the state of the race to swing wildly to his favor by early August.

Democrats themselves expect Kerry to have a sizeable lead after his convention. On Face the Nation on Sunday, DNC head Terry McAuliffe said, `We are about to pick our vice presidential nominee. We're about to go into a convention of four days and I think once we finish up our convention, I think you're going to see Senator Kerry anywhere from eight to twelve points up.’”

Posted at 03:34 PM

MORE VEEPSTAKES [Rich Lowry]
Another GOP strategist fears Edwards for these intriguing reeasons, the first of which wouldn't have occured to me: 1) competition always makes candidates better, and Kerry will feel pushed to hone his campaign skills, to the extent it is possible, to try keep up with Edwards; 2) Edwards is able to connect with a “K-mart crowd” much better than the aloof Kerry; 3) Edwards comes off as optimistic and cheerful (even if his primary-campaign message was downbeat), and whatever can be done to make the Democratic ticket seem less dour, in all senses, helps Kerry. For what it's worth...

Posted at 02:28 PM

VEEPSTAKES [Rich Lowry]
One smart GOP strategist has a theory for why Kerry has Edwards on his short-short list: to wring as much dough as possible from Edwards' trial-lawyer friends to the very last moment, as they try to entince Kerry into picking one of their own and as Edwards tries to prove his worth to the ticket. Now, for all I know, Kerry may actually pick Edwards, but this is a theory that makes intuitive sense. As a wag just put it to me, we know Kerry has a preference for partners with money (although he may leave this one at the altar).

Posted at 02:08 PM

PREDATOR V ALIEN V BATMAN V JOKER [Jonah Goldberg ]

For geeks only, but Batman: Deadend is very well done.


Posted at 12:43 PM

ROWAN, NIGELLA AND TABOOS [Andrew Stuttaford]
Over at his Daily Ablution, blogger Scott Burgess is on good form today. His topics: the dangers of Nigella Lawson, the revelation that the Archbishop of Canterbury (yes, Rowan Williams again) is not only against cremation (greenhouse gases!) but has now also taken it upon himself to correct God, and, finally, an entertaining selection of ‘last taboos’ unmasked by the Guardian and the Observer..

Posted at 12:30 PM

CAN WE GET THIS FELLA WORKING FOR THE CATHOLIC BISHOPS? [KJL]
An e-mail:
I suspect the American Catholic bishops are reluctant to deny kerry communion because they anticipate a public relations disaster that is counterproductive and devisive. I suspect that the kerry campaign is eagerly waiting for someone to deny him Communion. I agree completely with the feeling that he should be denied communion as he certainly is not "in communion" with the church on such a public moral issue; however I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that the bishops' reluctance may be justified. However, Kerry's position cannot be ignored. It has to be addressed. My modest proposal is twofold. There should be a nationwide public prayer campaign asking God to enlighten the hearts and minds of Catholic politicians to accept the church's teaching not only in their private lives but also their public ones. I recall such a campaign praying for peace during the korean War. Secondly, whenever Kerry or some other pro-abortion Catholic politician attends Mass, the priest should automatically give a sermon outlining the Church's clear teaching on abortion and receiving Communion. It should be clear to the politician and to the people that he is risking his eternal soul.

Posted at 12:27 PM

SIGH [KJL ]
A very minor thing, but a trend: I heard a replay of Clay Aiken singing that Lee Greenwood song “God Bless the U.S.A.” at the Mall last night. The American Idol changed “I won’t forget the men who died” to “I won’t forget the ones who died.” Yes, women die in war, too. And not just in Iraq or Afghanistan. We know that. Do we really need Clay Aiken to spell it out? Would people really, seriously be offended if he sang “men”?

Posted at 12:23 PM

ON THE BEACH [KJL]
John Edwards did his annual Wrightsville Beach walk yesterday. Is it me, or does that strike anyone as a dumb political move? Isn't the beach just about the last place you want a politician sticking his hand in your face (in close competition with phonecalls during dinner time)? Or do I just not get local politics?

Posted at 12:18 PM

HOW COOL (OR STUPID) IS THIS!? [Jonah Goldberg ]
Alien Versus Predator! Kathryn - I call dibs on the review!

Posted at 12:05 PM

RE ID II [Jonah Goldberg]

Lots of readers offering this possible/probable explanation:

Jonah, this is an easy one to figure out, based on the producers intentions with their most recent flick, "The Day After Tomorrow" (boy, that changed the whole course of the presidential election, didn't it?)

-- "Independence Day" features a heroic American president as one of its lead characters'
-- Bill Clinton was president when "Independence Day" was made. Could have been just coincidence the writers, producers and directors would make the leader on the free world into such a stud muffin at the same time the 1996 presidential election was going on, but;
-- "The Day After Tomorrow" features a president who is an idiot, and is basically controlled by his malicious vice-president (who at least isallowed to live through to the end of the moive). This portrayal comes out during the 2004 election.

Based on that, I'd say the odds of them going ahead with "ID II" showing a heroic president in battle with aliens are pretty slim as long as Bush is in office. But if Kerry wins come November, expect to see the sequel in theaters by the summer of 2006 (the only caveat here is that, based on the box office performance of "TDAT", if the producers are desperate enough for a hit in order to remain on the 'A' list, they might to a sequel even if Bush wins a second term. But then it wouldn't surprise me if "ID II" added some plot twist like Bill Pullman pulling a Benidict Arnold routing and going over to the aliens' side so he has to be defeated by Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum).


Posted at 11:57 AM

SPEAKING OF DICK GEPHARDT [KJL]
Did you read Rick Brookhiser's review of Hendrik Hertzberg's new book in the New York Times Review of Books? It begins:
When I picked up this book, I hoped I would find a description I have remembered, almost word for word, since I last read it, in Hendrik Hertzberg's coverage of the 1988 presidential campaign in The New Republic. It's here, on Page 192. ''Richard Gephardt . . . puts me in mind, unreasonably to be sure, of an earthling whose body has been taken over by space aliens. I keep expecting him to reach under his chin and peel back that immobile, monochromatic, oddly smooth face to reveal the lizard beneath.'' As a senior editor of National Review who was also covering that campaign, I wished I'd written that.

Posted at 11:52 AM

FEARLESS PREDICTION [John J. Miller]
Based on nothing but my gut, I predict that John Kerry will announce Dick Gephardt as his running mate tomorrow. I've made the case for Kerry-Gephardt here (see the first entry).

Posted at 11:47 AM

"WAR AGAINST WOMEN" [KJL]
John Kerry--who supposedly believes life begins at conception--sure hit all the right NARAL notes in this Jan. 2003 speech to the group (now NARAL Pro-Choice America, having undergone its own makeover). This speech is reprehensible, imho, if he truly believes what he is now saying he believes (the personally opposed nonsense).

Posted at 11:35 AM

INDEPENDENCE DAY (THE MOVIE) [Jonah Goldberg]

I watched it again last night. I still like it and suspect it will be a staple of July Fourth TV for a longtime to come. But why on earth haven't they made a sequel yet? Please spare me the quasi-rational response that they can't have a sequel because the aliens were defeated. One could certainly imagine a sequal begining with millions of aliens spilling out of the crashed alien ships in order to fight a pitched ground war. Plus, there's always the issue of reinforcements. If Spock can be brought back to life, Hollywood can churn out a few bazillion more aliens. Indeed, speaking of returning aliens, believability never got in the way of Aliens, Aliens III and Aliens IV (they should have stopped with Aliens, of course). And ID made a lot of money. So what's the problem? Surely it's not the high-standards of the cast?


Posted at 11:09 AM

BBC REPORTS LITTERED WITH ERRORS [Jonah Goldberg]
According to an internal memo the BBC runs dozens of deeply flawed and even libelous stories every day.

Posted at 10:51 AM

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ROCK'N'ROLL [KJL]
50 years ago today, Elvis recorded "That's All Right."

Posted at 09:39 AM

BLUE OR GREEN? BUS OF SUBWAY? BLOG OR MAGAZINE? [KJL]
Interesting exercise.

Posted at 09:27 AM

happy july 5TH [KJL]
We won't be resuming regular weekday NRO posting until Tuesday. We wish you the best for your day--hopefully many of you have off, time with family and friends, etc.

NR World Headquarters is abuzzing with the pieces of the next issue of NRODT coming together. BTW, have you subscribed? The drill is: paper subscriptions include both delivery to your postal mailbox and and access to the digital version (which is available, for instance, this Friday, vs. waiting till next week to give the new issue a first read). but you can also subscribe to the digital version only, saving yourself more paper in your house and some money. Wouldn't you love to be reading Rob Long, Mark Steyn, Rich Lowry, John J. Miller, John O'Sullivan, Byron York, Ramesh Ponnuru, Andy McCarthy, Rick Brookhiser and more right now? Curled up on your couch or practicing good posture? Consider getting yourself subscribed today.

Posted at 09:23 AM

SPIDEY [John Derbyshire]
Jonathan:

All right, I admit, I was venting. SPIDERMAN 2 bored me, and I don't take kindly to being bored. Vex me, annoy me, burn my house, steal my car, drink my likker from that ol' fruit jar, but don't bore me.

I got arguments, though. Even comic-book movies must obey certain unities. In the realm of science fiction -- and c/b movies are a species, even if a low one, of science fiction -- the golden rule is: You can have one highly implausible bit of science. The rest of the science should be sound, or at least should follow logically from the central implausibility. THE TIME MACHINE is a great sci-fi novel because, once you have granted the central, fairly preposterous, premise that time travel is possible, everything else is just basic Darwinism and stellar evolution, as it was understood at the time.

The central notion in SPIDERMAN is that if you get bitten by a spider whose genes have been messed about with in a certain way, you will develop the ability to shoot 100-ft silk threads from your wrists (without, apparently, any loss of body mass). This is preposterous -- though not at a sensationally high level, as spider genes can be messed around with in an infinity of ways, and we don't actually know what would happen if you were bitten by a spider whose genes had been messed around with in way No. 29,485,672.

Having been persuaded to suspend our disbelief with respect to Spidey's powers, we should not then be asked to swallow any more preposterosities. And we know perfectly well what whould happen if you dumped a fusion reaction into the East River -- ka-BOOM.

I was also put off by Doc Oc's striking resemblance to the late Tony Hancock.

Posted at 08:44 AM

HOW COOL IS THIS? [KJL]
From an AP story: "[I]n Saddam Hussein's former stronghold of Tikrit, soldiers watched fireworks light the night sky as they held a joint celebration with Iraqi National Guard soldiers on a bank overlooking the Tigris. Thousands of troops celebrated at one of Saddam's old palaces with a buffet featuring hamburgers and hot dogs and traditional Iraqi dishes."

Posted at 08:30 AM

Sunday, July 04, 2004

CONCLUDING THE 4TH [Rick Brookhiser]
I just watched the Macy's 4th of July fireworks display over the East River, from my apartment window. Then I looked up Washington Irving's description of the climax of the Battle of Long Island--the first battle fought after the Declaration of Independence, only a few miles from where the fireworks were being lit.

Grant, Cornwallis and De Heister are British or Hessian officers. Stirling is an American general, who claimed a SCottish title (hence, Irving calls him "his lordship"). Smallwood was another American commander. Macaronis are dandified officers (as in Yankee Doodle: stuck a feather in his hat and called it macaroni). As the passage opens, the American line has crumpled, and Stirling is trying to take Smallwood's Maryland unit, which he is commanding, back to the American lines on Brooklyn heights, where Washington is watching the fighting.

"....His lordship now thought to effect a circuitous retreat to the lines by crossing the creek which empties into Gowanus Cove near what was called the Yellow Mills. There was a bridge and a milldam, and the creek might be forded at low water, but no time was to be lost, for the tide was rising.

"Leaving part of his men to keep face towards General Grant, Stirling advanced with the rest to pass the creek but was suddenly checked by the appearance of Cornwallis and his grenadiers.

"Washington and some of his officers on the hill, who watched every movement, had supposed that Stirling and his troops, finding the case desperate, would surrender in a body without firing. On the contrary his lordship boldly attacked Cornwallis with half of Smallwood's battalion while the rest of his troops retreated across the creek. Washington wrung his hands in agony at the sight. 'Good God!' cried he, 'what brave fellows I must this day lose!'

"It was indeed a desperate fight, and now Smallwood's macaronis showed their game spirit. They were repeatedly broken, but as often rallied and renewed the fight.....The enemy rallied and returned to the combat with additional force. Only five companies of Smallwood's battalion were now in action. There was a warm and close engagement for nearly ten minutes. The struggle became desperate on the part of the Americans. Broken and disordered, they rallied in a piece of woods and made a second attack. They were again overpowered with numbers. Some were surrounded and bayoneted in a field of Indian corn. Others joined their comrades who were retreating across a marsh. Lord Stirling had encouraged and animated his young soldiers by his voice and example, but when all was lost he sought out General De Heister and surrendered himself as his prisoner.

"More than two hundred and fifty brave fellows, most of them of Smallwood's regiment, perished in this deadly struggle..."

That is, 250 out of a total of 400.

They fought for us. Honor them. Be as brave as they were.

Posted at 10:46 PM

DC-ERS BRAVE RAIN FOR THE 4TH [KJL]

Posted at 09:51 PM

ALGERIA SUSPENDS AL JAZEERA [KJL]

Posted at 09:46 PM

IRAN HAS CHARGES TO SUBMIT TO IRAQI COURT AGAINST SADDAM [KJL]

Posted at 09:44 PM

ROBERT FISK [KJL]
names the Iraqi judge at the Saddam hearing the other day (last item).

Posted at 09:22 PM

KERRY'S CUOMO PHILOSOPHY [KJL]
He says life begins at conception; he's personally opposed to abortion.

Posted at 09:09 PM

BRIDGING THE LEFT-RIGHT DIVIDE [Jonah Goldberg]
Kevin Drum's endorsement of bratwurst as superior to the hot dog. I love a good hot dog, but they're really just great snack food. Meanwhile brats with beer and the right mustard is a great meal. Clarification: That was supposed to read: "I have to second Kevin Drum's endorsement of bratwurst as superior to the hot dog." Sorry for any confusion on this vital issue.

Posted at 05:42 PM

"DEMS LAMENT BUSH COMEBACK" [Jonathan H. Adler]
That's the lede of Novak's Sunday column.

Posted at 03:09 PM

SPIDER SCIENCE [Jonathan H. Adler]
RE: Derbyshire's Spiderman 2 review. Let me see if I've got this straight: Derb expects scientific plausibility in a movie about a kid who gets super powers, including the ability to shoot fully formed webs from his wrists, when he's bitten by a genetically engineered spider?

Posted at 03:07 PM

OUTSOURCING CUB SCOUTS? [Mark Krikorian]
The scout camp I went to with my son (I was one of two dads overseeing 11 boys full-time for a week -- it was a long week!) was called Camp PMI, one of several camps at the Washington-area scout council's 4,000-acre Goshen Reservation. Upon seeing the name of the camp I grew alarmed that the scouts had given into the the culture of efficiency-uber-alles by outsourcing the running of the camp to Parking Management Inc., the owner of parking facilities all over the Washington area! Improbable as it might seem, it was plausible, since the camp's red, white, and black oval logo was exactly the same as the company's. I was relieved to learn that the founders of the PMI company merely donated the money years ago to build the camp, which is why one of the other camps there is called Marriott.

Posted at 03:05 PM

...TO DO MY DUTY, TO GOD AND MY COUNTRY... [Mark Krikorian]
Just got back yesterday from a week as an adult leader at Cub Scout camp in western Virginia. Now, I wasn't into scouting as a kid -- I lost interest in Cub Scouts after one year, though my dad and brother were Eagle Scouts, Order of the Arrow, the whole thing. But the importance of scouting for the future health of our country can't be exaggerated. Patriotism, for instance, wasn't preached at camp -- it was just assumed as a normal part of life. Everyone went to the daily flag-raising and -lowering ceremonies and each of the two big campfire programs ended with a patriotic song (they called it "America the Beautiful," but it was not the familiar song, though it was a quiet and lovely tune). There were a variety of religious services and grace before every meal. Camp also gave the Cub Scouts structured, civilized outlets for their normal male urges and interests -- air rifles, archery, fire-building, etc. I especially appreciated the staff member who taught the nature program, who, while communicating his deep respect for nature, laughingly said he was no tree-hugger -- that properly managed hunting was good and that driving nails into trees was bad because they might break the chainsaw and cause injuries when it came time to harvest the tree. This from a college kid who looks like Weird Al Yankovic! And the all-black group from an AME church in suburban Maryland reminded me that few things would be of more help to black America, and America in general, than having more black scouts.

Posted at 03:02 PM

PASCAL ISHO WARDE [Andrew Stuttaford]

Via the No Pasaran blog, the story of Iraq’s new immigration minister. As the blogger points out, somewhat acidly, it’s easier for a French Arab to become a minister in Iraq than in France.

The whole piece is worth reading (and follow through with the links if you have time), but these comments from Warde are also well worth repeating here:

“Saying no to war was to say yes to Saddam so that he could continue to massacre us… Freedom comes at a price and France didn't want to see this. It retreated behind the UN, partly to defend its own economic interests."

Indeed it did.


Posted at 02:31 PM

A FAN OF THE JACKBOOT? [Andrew Stuttaford]

Mort Sahl was once, I am told, a famous comedian. This, I assume, can be the only explanation for the answers he gave to a questionnaire in the latest Vanity Fair.

”Q: Which historical figure do you most identify with?

“A: Che Guevara.”

Che Guevara was, of course, a murderer, a terrorist, an avatar of totalitarian rule.

”Q: Which living person do you most admire?”

”A: Fidel Castro.”

Fidel Castro is, of course, a tyrant, a torturer and a killer.

Please, please tell me that Mr. Sahl is being ironic. If not, he is, quite simply, beneath contempt.


Posted at 02:27 PM

MORE ON MOORE [Andrew Stuttaford]

The success of Michael Moore both internationally and at home is, shall we say, a dismaying phenomenon. To respond to this challenge, it’s not enough just to point to the inaccuracies that litter Moore's work. Something else is needed. Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, Matthew D’Ancona has some ideas:

“Indeed, the problem with the American "neocons" - Cheney, Rumsfeld et al - is that they are not "neo" enough. They use old Cold War language to describe an utterly modern conflict. This war may well, for a start, be longer than the great struggle of the second half of the last century. It is certainly more complex: the triple, interlocked threat of weapons of mass destruction, global terrorist groups and rogue states is much more difficult to explain than the monolithic danger which was represented by the Soviet bloc and its ideology. And, to be prosecuted successfully, the war on terror will require durable public faith in politicians and the intelligence services that inform them: the very trust which has taken such a terrible beating before, during and after the Iraqi conflict. The anti-war lobby has the slick movies of Michael Moore. And what do we hawks have? The sickening images of Abu Ghraib, that's what.

“This is why it isn't enough to say that Moore manipulates the facts, or that he is a charlatan, or that his arguments are glib. The reality is that his methods are working, and working for a reason. He is the grizzled face of a culture in denial, the contrarian voice of the millions who would rather hate Dubya than confront the awesome threat that stalks our age. His success is an urgent warning to those who support the war, who grasp its importance, to raise their game, and fast. Nitpicking is not the answer. It's the big issues that count. And it's there that Michael Moore has no answers. If he is so visionary, why is his objective - to run Bush out of the White House - so parochial? What would he do about the new horrors of our time? Dude, where's your sense of history?”

Read the whole thing.


Posted at 01:46 PM

SYRIA: A HUGE PROBLEM [Andy McCarthy]
While the trial of Saddam Hussein is commanding lots of attention right now, a far bigger problem than constructing the legal case against Saddam is securing him -- and securing a place to have the trial of him and his henchmen. For that reason, among others, this Sunday Times of London story is unsettling. Syria is not only aiding the died-in-the-wool jihadists; it is pushing a Baathist revival. Obviously, this is the last news people will want to deal with, but it will be close to impossible to stabilize Iraq without dealing with Syria . . . and Iran. However unimaginable this may have sounded in December when he was unearthed from the spider-hole, it is not inconceivable that Saddam could be running Iraq again (or at least a large part of it) someday if he is not executed, if the Baathist support system is not demolished (in Syria too), and if an unstabilized Iraq plunges into civil war. There are many Iraqis who want to see Saddam executed, but there is a committed, well-armed, well-networked cabal that would like nothing better than to free him and restore him to power. This thing is not over yet, and as we are in it, we need to focus on winning it, decisively, before leaving.

Posted at 11:03 AM

MOVIE REVIEW [John Derbyshire]
Yestersday was my son's 9th birthday. Took him and a platoon of friends to see SPIDERMAN 2.

I think this may be the stupidest movie I have ever seen, not excluding DUMB AND DUMBERER, MISSOURI BREAKS, and LAST YEAR IN MARIENBAD. It was dumb, dumb, dumb and awful. This movie was just packed to the gunwales with every kind of awfulness, form bogus sentimentality to stupid science. (You extinguish a fusion reaction by DROWNING IT? Oy oy oy.)

I write as one who LIKES special effects, and grew up reading comic books and sci-fi. This movie is almost complete garbage. Its only redeeming feature was the balletic sequences of Spidey swooping through the canyons of Manhattan.

I canvassed Danny & two of his guests to rate the movie out of 10.

---Danny: 8, no 9.

---Friend A (age 11): 7

---Friend B (age 8): 8

Posted at 11:00 AM

THE AMERICANS [Andrew Stuttaford]

William Pitt (‘the elder’), Earl of Chatham, speaking to the House of Lords, June 17th 1774:

“If we take a transient view of those motives which induced the ancestors of our fellow-subjects, in America, to leave their native country to encounter the innumerable difficulties of the unexplored regions of the western world, our astonishment at the present conduct of their descendants will naturally subside. There was no corner of the world into which men of their free and enterprizing turn would not fly, with alacrity, rather than submit to the slavish and tyrannical principles which prevailed, at that period, in their native country.

“And shall we wonder, my Lords, if the descendants of such illustrious characters spurn, with contempt, the hand of unconstitutional power, that would snatch from them such dear bought privileges as they now contend for? Had the British colonies been planted by any other kingdoms than our own, the inhabitants would have carried with them the chains of slavery, and the spirit of despotism; but as they are, they ought to be remembered as great influences to instruct the world, to what a stretch of liberty mankind will naturally attain, when they are left to the free exercise of themselves.”

He got it.


Posted at 10:56 AM

HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY [KJL]
May freedom continue to reign!

Posted at 10:52 AM

NOT YET SWEDEN [John Derbyshire]

Posted at 10:09 AM

THE PATRIOT'S ACT [Jonah Goldberg]
Me on patriotism in the LA Times (annoying registration requ'd).

Posted at 08:47 AM

 
 
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