Saturday, June 28, 2003

Little Green Footballs is reporting this story about anti-semitism at Oxford. An Israeli scientiest applying for a job there received this response.
"Dear Amit Duvshani,

Thank you for contacting me, but I don't think this would work. I have a huge problem with the way that the Israelis take the moral high ground from their appalling treatment in the Holocaust, and then inflict gross human rights abuses on the Palestinians because they (the Palestinians) wish to live in their own country.

I am sure that you are perfectly nice at a personal level, but no way would I take on somebody who had served in the Israeli army. As you may be aware, I am not the only UK scientist with these views but I'm sure you will find another suitable lab if you look around.

Yours sincerely,

Andrew Wilkie

Nuffield Professor of Pathology,

Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine,

The John Radcliffe,"

In a followup, LGF reports that
He [Wilkie] apologizes for the “distress” his email caused and admits it was “inappropriate” to express his personal opinions, but doesn’t back down one bit from those opinions. It’s the classic weasel’s non-apology apology, designed to take the heat off while not recanting the offensive actions in any substantial way, and admitting only enough guilt to shut up the critics.
This professor should lose his job for inserting his political beliefs into his hiring. This is not the first time that an English university has been embarrassed by its refusal to consider an Israeli applicant. You might remember the story of the journal editor from Manchester, England who fired two Israelis from her journal. Mona Baker, the editor had signed a petition circulating in Europe to boycott any connection with Israeli universities.

Another professor at the University of Manchester had written in an e-mail to a Harvard professor, Stephen Greenblatt, who had criticized Baker's action Israel was the "mirror image of Nazism." How depressing that educated people should hold these bigoted beliefs. It shows that the Arab policy of constantly equating Israel with the Nazis has been successful, at least among a certain segment of the European elites.

On a better note, a professor at Columbia has launched an effort to combat this boycott.
The LA Times reports that some California school districts are dropping D's from the report cards. The kids have either have to master the material with a C or they flunk. The result is that some children work harder to make sure they pass and others give up and fail.

I predict another result. Teachers will feel pressured to bump that D+ student up to a C so he or she can pass. We feel that pressure now for the F student who is close to a D. So, grade inflation will simply take place at a different point. But, I endorse the idea that if C indicates proficiency in the material, a student who isn't proficient shouldn't pass.

Joanne Jacobs says that the charter school that she has been following has dropped D's and seen F's soar and GPA's sink. It will be interesting to see if school administrators can resist parental pressure to reinstate the D.
We just saw one of the most enjoyable movies we've seen in a while. Try to see Spellbound if you can.

This is the Oscar nominee for documentary that so unfairly lost out to Michael Moore's Bowling for Columbine. First time filmmaker Jeff Blitz follows eight children as they prepare for and then compete in the National Spelling Bee. As David Edelstein says in Slate
It sounds corny, but I had a hard time seeing any of these kids as losers—and a harder time figuring out how this deeply generous American documentary could have lost the Academy Award to Bowling for Columbine. Is it fair to ask whether most of the voters saw Spellbound? Or would that be irresponseble?
The movie is also a celebration of America as a melting pot. There is Angela, whose parents were illegal immigrants from Mexico and don't speak English. There are immigrants from India, Nupur and Neil. Nupur's father even comments about what a welcoming country America is. Neil's father pays for a Spelling Tutor for his son as well as tutors on the peculiarities of French and Spanish. Then the kid freezes on a Bengali word, Darjeeling. And there is Ashley, a black girl from Washington, D.C. who has two uncles in jail. It's hard to know which child to pull for, but it is so impressive to see these dedicated children put in the hard work and dedication that it takes to do well at anything.

This movie is the quintessential "feel good" movie. As the Chicago Tribune reviewer points out, this is a real life Survivor.

I have my own experiences as the mother of a spelling bee competitor. My older daughter won the county bee in 4th grade and came in third in the regional bee in 6th grade. Bees are such frustrating events because there is such an element of luck. As the kids in the movie pointed out, contestants can know all the other words, but if they don't know their word, they're out of luck.

Then, our school system, Wake County, NC, decided for reasons I'm still angry about to drop spelling bees. They felt that spelling was not a necessary skill to focus on anymore. They felt that it was too painful to the kids who lost. So, we don't have the Spelling Bee here anymore. Of course, this antipathy to competition did not involve canceling the sports programs. No, losers are okay in sports; it's only in academic competitions that we worry about children learning the lesson that not all kids can be champions.

And, of course, all teachers are seeing the results today of the lack of focus on spelling in schools. It starts in Kindergarten when the teachers tell parents at Parent Night not to correct a child's spelling because that will interfere with their willingness to learn how to write. Then, they took the spelling books out of the elementary schools. I remember my daughter's 2nd grade teacher saying that she only had spelling books because she rescued them from the dumpster after the ukase came down that they weren't supposed to use them anymore.

The result is that I have high schoolers who don't believe me when I tell them that "a lot" is two words. No matter how many times I subtract points, they can't seem to figure out the difference between homophones like "its" and "it's" or "their," "they're," and "there." If you're middle-aged and haven't been around kids lately, you'd be astounded at how poor their spelling is. And I teach the smart, honors students. I even have kids who mix up "no" and "know." And since spell checkers won't catch those mistakes, the kids don't have a clue how stupid they appear when they turn their papers in.

I'm just hoping that when we get done with the discovery learning that everyone is so thrilled about, we can return to phonics, spelling, and grammar and start turning out a new generation that knows the things that I learned in elementary school.

Enough of my rant. Take the whole family and go see this funny and inspirational movie.
In between blogging and Harry Potter, I've been reading through Robert Remini's superb biography of Henry Clay. Clay is, as I tell my AP History Students, the most important person in American political history who never was president.

It has been fun to note some of the parallels to today's politics. For those who bemoan the viciousness of today's politics, how about Clay's description of Andrew Jackson's presidency.
[Clay] began with yet another blast at Jackson, under whose direction, he said, "society has been uprooted, virtue punished, vice rewarded, and talents and intellectual endowments despised; brutality, vulgarism, and loco focoism upheld, cherished and countenanced. Ages will roll around before the moral and political ravages which have been committed will, I fear cease to be discernible." (page 512)
And see if this description of John Randolph, a real loony congressman from Virginia reminds you of a certain senator from West Virginia.
To put it bluntly, Randolph seemed to have descended from cloud-cuckoo-land. That he was eccentric everyone acknowledged. That he frequently ran out of control and became a royal nuisance was also acknowledged. But he could not be lightly dismissed or disregarded. He had to be handled with infinite care, for he was a wicked debater with a asharp and nasty tongue and when he rose to speak in the House, his colleagues trembled with dread that he might single out one of them for a verbal pummeling. His high, shrill, feminine voice set one's teeth on edge, but colleagues suppressed their urge to laugh for fear of the humiliating consequences that might ensue.(p.78)
Here is a description of one of Randolph's "most outrageous performances."
In a rambling, sometimes incoherent, funny, insulting, and devastating speech, filled with literary and classical allusions, among other odds and ends, and delivered with delightful insouciance, he roamed among a number of topics...(p. 292)
Except for the delightful and devastating bit, couldn't that describe one of Byrd's rambling diatribes?
Patrick Kennedy is still trying to explain away his idiotic comments at a Young Democrats party.
``I don't need Bush's tax cut,'' Kennedy (D-R.I.) was quoted as telling a Young Democrats party at Acropolis, a D.C. nightclub. ``I have never worked a (bleeping) day in my life.''

Kennedy insisted his words, reported in a Washington Post gossip column yesterday, were sarcastic and blown out of context.

He did not challenge the veracity of the Post's quotes, however.

``In terms of my choice of words, I believe and always believe that it is not work to represent the people of Rhode Island,'' Kennedy said in a written statement.

Kennedy told the crowd ``how much better the candidates would sound the more we drank'' before being hustled off the stage, according to the Post.

He is having a lot of trouble denying that he is not the dumbest Congressman on the Hill.
Fred Barnes jinxes President Bush by using the "L-word."
P. J. O'Rourke is not kind in his review of Hillary's book.
Pittsburgh City Paper - reports on how Teresa Heinz Kerry gave advice to cartoonists on how to draw her husband. (This was done as humore; she is not that egotistical.)
"Already a target herself more than a year before the next presidential election, Heinz instructed the 150 cartoonists from around the country on how not to draw Kerry in the coming months, using an overhead projector to display cartoons she already disliked: 'My husband should not be confused with Punxsutawney Phil. He isn't a basset hound. Please resist the impulse to use Heinz products when drawing my husband & ' Concentrate, she said, only on 'his noble chin, focused gaze and & smile. In other words, draw him like this.'

Up on screen flashed a cartoon of John F. Kennedy."
Link via Political Wire
Siflay Hraka has come up with an interesting way to rank blogs. Using his formulation, the average of reader time per day for my blog works out to 10.04. Not bad. However, I'm not sure if you can count how long Site Meter says viewers linger on a page. What about people, like me, who open up a horde of windows at one time and then work around from window to window. A page might be open for a while without my actually looking at it.

Some of the comments on Silflay's entry point out how bogus Sitemeter's time on page statistics are. Oh, well.
John Keegan looks at the difficulty of getting out of a war when one side has not surrendered. His advice is to reconstitute an Iraqi national army as soon as possible.
I knew Google wouldn't let me down. If you haven't already, download the new Google Toolbar. It only takes a few minutes.

This wonderful tool does a great job of blocking pop-ups.

And what is wonderful for my personal Blogger problems, I can use the "Blog This" button to navigate around the new Blogger. I love it! It's as if Hermione Granger gave me a new spell to solve my problems. Blissful sigh...
The New York Times says that the drug/Medicare bill is a major victory for Bill Frist.
Arthur Schlesinger is still worried about the Imperial Presidency. He is hoping/predicting that the missing WMD will lead to the 'liberation from Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld" of Congress and the media. Even finding WMD will not exonerate Bush, in Schlesinger's view, from the charge of imperialism became he despises the idea of preemption as a foreign policy.

So, what would Arthur have done if he'd been advising a president who had had hints of 9/11 before the event. Would he have advised waiting for more substantive intelligence or waiting for the actual attack so that we would not indulge in the evil of a preventive-war policy?
Check out the The New Republic Primary. and see how TNR grades the Democratic candidates. So far, Howard Dean has gotten an A, D, C, B, A, and F from the TNR pundits. Besides having grades all over the block, it is interesting that 60% of the pundit comments concern Dean. Kerry doesn't get any. It shows that Eleanor Clift might be onto something that Dean is becoming the candidate that the attention of the party is focused on.
Now, I understand why Jay Solo has labeled me a Hyperionista. (Which is the same as being an Oberonian.) I guess that is the appropriate planetary classification for me.
The Houston paper reports that the race rhetoric is getting very ugly as the Texas Legislature prepares to take up the redistricting plan that caused the Democrats to walk out of the Legislature last month.
Fred Barnes looks at how Teddy Kennedy has outfoxed everyone on the drug benefits in Medicare.
The Washington Post says that experts are surprised at how much of an advantage that new campaign finance law gives Republicans. I guess they weren't paying attention while the bill was being debated. I distinctly remember lots of analysis that said that some Republicans were supporting the bill because they realized what an advantage it would give them. Also, that some Democrats wanted to oppose the bill because they realized the same thing, but thought the PR of opposing the bill would be too damaging. Once again, the truth of the adage "Be careful what you wish for" is proved applicable.

Instead of focusing on the money, some of these analysts should focus on what it means that more small donors give to the Republicans and the large donors support the Democrats.
A report released yesterday by the Center for Responsive Politics, a watchdog group, found that, contrary to common perceptions, Republicans have a big advantage over Democrats in donations from small donors, while Democrats are king among only the biggest.

The study, analyzing donations during the 2002 campaign cycle, found that those little guys giving less than $200 to federal candidates, parties or leadership political action committees contributed 64 percent of their money to Republicans. By contrast, those fat cats giving $1 million or more contributed a lopsided 92 percent to Democrats. The only group favoring Democrats, in fact, were contributors giving more than $100,000.

"The findings illustrate the Republicans' strong advantage over Democrats in the current system," the center concluded. That's for sure. With the McCain-Feingold law capping total contributions at $95,000 per person, the Democrats are plain out of luck.

"Common perceptions" indeed!
How many ways can I hate the new Blogger? Elizabeth Barrett Browning could have written about this! First, it tells me that I need Internet Explorer 6.0 to get the interface with Blogger that I used to have. So, I spent an hour and a half downloading IE 6. But, no change in the Blogger interface. Grrrrr.

Then, I find that when I press to post my blog, the window gets stuck in an endless loop and does not publish. I found that if I opened another window into Blogger and press post again, it would work. Then that stopped working. So, I tried opening a third window of Blogger and that worked. But, it is almost too much agony to be worthwhile.

I posted my complaints on their complaint page, but they haven't even viewed the complaint two days later. My husband says I shouldn't complain so much about a free service. As if that would stop my complaints.

Are any of you out there having such problems with the new Blogger? You would think that having Google purchase Blogger would have improved the service rather than destroying it. I am just waiting to get a new system to switch over to. Stay tuned.
The Weekly Standard has a long story on Blair Hornstine. They place a lot of the blame for her behavior on the father. It sounds like he was taking care of some of her charity work. However, I bet a lot of parents help out with their children's charity work. I'm more upset about the plagiarism in her newspaper work. As if any bright high school student wouldn't know that you can't cut and paste quotes into your story without acknowledgement. Her excuse is that footnotes would have interrupted the flow of her story.

Whenever I catch kids in plagiarism, they all give the same excuse: "I didn't know that that would be plagiarism." As if they thought it would be okay to paste someone else's work into their paper without any attribution. Anyone headed for Harvard, as Blair is, knows the difference.

Reading all the things Blair was supposedly involved in makes it clear that those applying to top schools have to compete on a level that my generation never did.

Now, this whole mess is going to civil trial since the Hornstines want $2.7 million dollars in damages. Is that the going price for being a sole valedictorian rather than a co-valedictorian these days. Even with a sympathetic judge, I can't see any jury of citizens from this town finding in her favor on this. Whta a mess! And this poor school system has to shell out money for a lawyer to defend against this mess!
Mark Steyn has an R rated obituary for Strom.
Eleanor Clift (I know, I know. But sometimes you have to check out what the other side thinks. And you know that she has a direct line to how Democrats think.) says that Howard Dean is starting to become the Man to be Beat.

Friday, June 27, 2003

The Slate Breakfast Table discussion ends with Walter Dellinger giving some insights on Sandra Day O'Connor and with Dahlia Lithwick noting how the media got a quote by Scalia from his dissent totally wrong.
Howard Dean has won the totally meaningless, unscientific Moveon online poll.
You knew this was going to happen. The University of Texas is restoring race to their equation for admissions.
Oh, goody. Dennis Kucinich says that he is staying in the race. The more the merrier.
Marni Soupcoff points out how worthless the Nobel Peace Prize is.
Both Lieberman and Kerry missed the vote on prescription drug benefits in the Senate. Campaigning took precedence over helping seniors get their drugs.
Bob Graham says that he won't be running for reelection to the Senate next year because he expects to be the Democratic nominee for president. Yeah, as if that is going to happen. But, if he doesn't run for reelection that could be a pickup seat for the GOP that they wouldn't have had much of a chance of if he ran.
John J. Miller says that it is just typical that politicians would exempt themselves from the Do Not Call Registry. They like to exempt themselves from the rules that apply to everyone else.

What I wonder is about the exemption for polling. What is to prevent every telemarketer from putting some sort of poll into their phone call?
Clifford May looks at the Democratic dilemma concerning national security.
Here's Dahlia Lithwick on Sandra Day O'Connor.
I couldn't agree more that Justice O'Connor is the lynchpin as far as the current court is concerned, and the primary reason for the amazing turn of events this week. It's incredibly telling that she sided one way in each of the two Michigan cases, even where–and I know you disagree with me here–it's ultimately very hard to reconcile the two, except in very cosmetic ways. While the statistics you cite are indeed intriguing, it's worth recalling that this is a pattern that's been holding fast for several years now: O'Connor as decisive fifth vote, O'Connor never being on the losing end of a case, O'Connor never authoring a dissent, O'Connor concurring in the holding but on narrower grounds. It's been said (and said, and said) that Sandra Day O'Connor is the most powerful woman in America. I think we're only just starting to see why.

O'Connor isn't merely the moderate fulcrum on a court that is otherwise pretty consistently polarized 4-4. She is also the justice willing to write the narrowest opinion, frequently confining her holding to the facts of the case. In this way she can almost always find 4 votes that share her viewpoint, if not her reasoning, without signing off on their broad principles of law. O'Connor is often criticized for this narrowness of scope: She wants to see fairness and justice done in each case, more than she worries about creating an elegant structure of precedent for future courts to follow. And because she is so extraordinarily placed right now, she is able to turn whole bodies of law into the law of "Sandy Says."

For instance, O'Connor changed the Roe v. Wade test for permissible abortions into her own "undue burden" test. Now states can regulate abortion, so long as such regulations do not unduly burden the mother. Who's to say what's an undue burden? Sandy says. O'Connor's created the same unknowable test for affirmative action with her decision in the Michigan case: Now schools can use race to achieve a "critical mass" of diversity in a class. Who's to say what constitutes a critical mass? Or what is a permissible use of race to achieve it? Sandy says. Moreover, in the same case O'Connor announced that affirmative action programs should sunset away in the future. But who's to say when the world will be sufficiently diversified? Sandy says.

You have long contended, and I have always agreed, that the trick of the Rehnquist court is that they are not necessarily for states rights, or for Congress, or for the individual, per se. They are for their own power to pick and choose which of the above institutions they will privilege on any given day. It seems O'Connor does that both as a member of the court, but also on a micro-level: She picks and chooses which cases, which causes, and which plaintiffs will be bestowed with her unique brand of justice, and she chooses the yardstick by which justice will be measured. Then she yanks the rest of the court around to her position. My guess is that to her mind this is precisely what judging is all about. And in some large biblical sense she is correct. But you can't help but sympathize with a Scalia, who sees rigid precepts and principles first and individual justice second (if that). O'Connor's disproportionate power must drive him insane.

I'm guessing you have more to say about what makes O'Connor tick, and I am chomping at the bit to hear it. She fascinates me, and always has, since the day she spoke to my law-school class about how annoying it is to be woken up late at night with requests for death-row stays of execution. Annoying? Someone is about to be executed. If you don't want to be woken up at midnight, get an accounting job.

Consider these statistics that Walter Dellinger cites concerning cases this term.
And here are the most startling statistics that emerge from the final list of the justices voting patterns:

Number of 5-4 opinions: 13.

Number of 5-4 opinions in which Justice O'Connor is in the majority: 13.
Number of dissenting opinions by Justice O'Connor: 0.
Howie Kurtz looks at the press Howard Dean has been getting. It follows the typical pattern: build up the insurgent and tear him down when he looks like he could actually win.
It doesn't seem like J.K. Rowling and Hillary Clinton have much of a case against those who broke the embargo on their books and published some of it early.
Let us not forget the anniversary of Gettysburg next week.
Ron Brownstein envisions a nightmare scenario for Democrats.
"In all likelihood, Bush is going to have the greatest election-year financial advantage of any candidate since the federal election campaign act was adopted" in 1974 after the Watergate scandal, said Anthony Corrado, a campaign finance expert at Colby College in Maine.

That advantage could threaten Democrats most dramatically just after they settle on their nominee, which likely will occur in late February or early March, following a spate of primaries.

At that point, Democrats could face a nightmare scenario: a nominee with little money left after a bruising primary fight; a Democratic National Committee weakened by the ban on the unlimited contributions known as "soft" money that previously accounted for most of its budget, and a president sitting on more cash than any White House candidate ever.

Taken together, these developments could allow Bush to spend massive sums to tar Democratic nominee and burnish his own image in key states. The Democrats, meanwhile, would be unable to come close to matching Bush's spending. This disparity could last until the 2004 Democratic convention in late July. "It is a massive disadvantage for us, no question about it," said Jim Jordan, presidential campaign manager for Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) "It is going to be a long, cold, wet spring for the [Democratic] nominee."

Sounds like just the situation the Republicans faced in 1996.
Representative Davis (R) who is the Chairman of the House Committee on Government Reform is putting together a bill to give DC a voting representative in Congress and pairing that with giving Utah another representative so that the partisan balance will remain the same. (Thanks to Eric K. for the correction on which committee Davis chairs.)
Mark Steyn has a great anecdote on Denis Thatcher.
America is the only country in the Western world in which the consort of the head of government is given a semiformal role, an office and a staff. Most Canadians couldn't even name the wife of their Prime Minister. Carol Thatcher once recounted to me a late-night train journey her father took during the early days of her mum's premiership. Just before the train pulled out of Paddington Station, a group of patients from a mental hospital, homeward bound after a day trip to London, piled into Denis Thatcher's otherwise deserted carriage.

The bossy lady in charge began a head count: ". . . eight, nine, ten . . ." Coming to Sir Denis, she paused. "Who are you?"

"I'm the Prime Minister's husband," he said.

Without missing a beat, she counted him in -- "11" -- and continued.

~ Mark in The Wall Street Journal, January 28th 1998. For more on the first ever husband of a British Prime Minister - and a great picture gallery - see The Daily Telegraph.
Patrick Kennedy showed why he deserves the reputation as the dumbest Kennedy.
We hear that Kennedy told the crowd: "I don't need Bush's tax cut. I have never worked a [bleeping] day in my life." With that he got the audience's attention -- the dropping-jaws kind. "He droned on and on, frequently mentioning how much better the candidates would sound the more we drank," a witness told us. "Finally, he had to be stopped by a DNC volunteer.
Rehnquist had some fun with the audience at the Court yesterday.
Andrew Sullivan has a nice tribute to Denis Thatcher who passed away this week.
Charles Krauthammer says that it is a good thing that the Supreme Court did not get rid of affirmative action. That would have been too similar to the Court's ruling on abortion; he believes that such controversial issues should be decided in legislatures or businesses and not be judges. That is what conservatives have always argued was wrong with Roe v. Wade. Now, it's time for them to act out what they believe in.

Thursday, June 26, 2003

Hmmm. If you read that a justice wrote that a particular law "should encourage the transition to a society where race no longer matters: a society where integration and color-blindness are not just qualities to be proud of, but are simple facts of life" would you think that that sentence came from a dissent in the Michigan case? Well, you'd be wrong. The quote comes from Sandra Day O'Connor in today's ruling on the Georgia redistricting case. Sounds a little different from her ruling on Monday, doesn't it?
Larry Sabato has put up his Crystal Ball predictions for the Electoral College tally next year if the race turns out to be as highly competitive as 2000. His basic assumption is that the red and blue states would vote as they did in 2000. However, he pits Bush against the top Democratic challengers and assumes the Democrat would carry his own state. And Lieberman would carry Florida. The result is that the only Democrat Bush beats in Sabato's prediction is...John Kerry. Of course, if it's not a close election, all bets are off. (link via Polipundit)
Volokh looks at whether there should be freedom of speech to say something offensive.
George Will wonders the same thing that Rick Santorum did.
Once consent--``choice''--supplants marriage as the important interest served by cloaking sexual activities as constitutional rights, by what principle is any consensual adult sexual conduct not a protected right? Bigamy? Polygamy? Prostitution? Incest? Even--if we assume animals can consent, or that their consent does not matter--bestiality?

Check out the discussion of Harry Potter over at Slate. You may disagree with the two discussants, but it's interesting to see cultured adults discuss the book. Warning: Spoilers appear. Then you might want to follow the link at the bottom of the page to read comments in The Fray as readers discuss the book on their own.
Clayton Cramer is not happy with the Texas v. Lawrence decision.
Lileks looks at how Gephardt and Dean have put their feet into their mouths.
The Third Circuit has ruled that an 83 year old plaque of the Ten Commandments can stay up in a courthouse in Pennsylvania. The court decided that the plaque was historic and had been put up long enough ago so that viewers would see it as a historic artifact and not a violation of the Establishment Clause.
Should Spike Lee have a monopoly on the name Spike?
You just can't make this stuff up! Research shows that 90% of Euro notes have cocaine on them.
Drudge is reporting that the White House wouldn't let Bill Gates in without his photo ID. None of this, "Oh, you're the richest guy in the world so I guess the rules are different for you" stuff at the White House.
Eugene Volokh says that the Supreme Court's decision in the Texas v. Johnson case does not provide a legal distinction to allow states to allow adult, consensual incest. Philippe de Croy says that Volokh is overestimating the need of the Supreme Court to be consistent.
I HATE the new blogger. It doesn't work on my computer, so I'm using my husband's while he inflicts a final exam on his students at the university. Apparently, Blogger updated, but only had a simplified, stinky, non-working system for people with older browsers. I hope that downloading an update will fix the problem. Otherwise, I'll have to keep kicking my husband off his own computer. Are other people having problems with the new Blogger? I think it needed lots more Beta testing.
Who would have predicted that having Republicans in control of two branches of government would lead lobbyists to hire more Republicans. The Washington Post thinks it's news that the Republicans are having more influence on K Street.
I've been waiting years for this.
Rick Hasen looks at California law to show that Bob Novak (and California Democrats) are wrong to think that Gov. Davis could resign and thus hand over the governorship of California to his Lt. Governor, Bustamente. This plan to foil the supporters of recall who are also hoping to get a Republican into the position would only work if Davis resigned before the recall petitions are filed. Afterwards, Bustamente would simply be a temporary governor until the recall election settles who the new governor should be. Mickey Kaus points out that, if Democrats could settle on Bustamente as their sole candidate on the ballot, the Democrats would actually benefit from the recall by having an untainted Hispanic in the position rather than the bumbling and politically dishonest Gray Davis.
Well, I don't understand any of this, but I'm sure it is very cool. A mathematician has studied Supreme Court decisions and come up with two vectors that account for all but three of the Rehnquist court decisions.
What an absolute pleasure. Right Wing News has collected together the best of Jonah Goldberg's quotes. He and Mark Steyn are the best examples of how to combine humor with making dead-on, righteous arguments. Aspiring writers could do much worse than studying their techniques.
Drudge reports, with pictures, that Hillary is wearing blue contacts to color her hazel or brown eyes.
Well, the Supreme Court struck down Texas' criminalization of gay sex. This was a clash of civil rights and federalism and the civil rights position won. We'll have to see if polygamists carry out their intention of challenging anti-polygamy laws based on the same principles.
Common Sense and Wonder does a great fisking of Maureen Dowd's vitriolic column on Clarence Thomas.

Lileks' wife has lost her job. Our hearts go out to you, Lileks. And we're thrilled that you will keep up the blog.

The Washington Times looks at the history of cost overruns in Medicare. It has never come in at the projected cost. So, be very wary at this proposed changes and proposed costs. They have no idea of how much it will cost.

Deborah Orin looks at the possibility that Dean might actually win the Democratic nomination. Liberals love him and they don't care about his abysmal performance on Meet the Press.

John Fund profiles Janice Brown, a justice on the California Supreme Court, who is opposed to judicial activism. She sounds like an ideal candidate for the Supreme Court. She sounds like a more vocal, female Clarence Thomas. Fund thinks she would be the leading candidate to replace O'Connor.
Scrappleface has the inside line on how the remaining Supreme Court decisions are going to come down.

Hugh Hewitt looks at those who criticized the administration for not putting together all the hints before September 11, yet now criticize the administration for "hyping" the intelligence on Iraq.

Andrew Sullivan takes on Maureen Dowd's patronizing criticism of Clarence Thomas. Apparently, since he's black and may have gotten into Yale in an affirmative action program, he can never rule against racial preferences.

Anne Applebaum points out that bipartisanship often leads to poor results.

Chris Weinkopf looks at whiteness studies.

An English columnist is upset about how Hollywood portrays British history in such movies as Braveheart and The Patriot. He worries that the English cannot be portrayed as brave and honorable and are only to be shown as mercenary oppressors. Well, if the gauntlet fits....

Does anyone else who uses blogger and has the new blogger know if there is a way to publish an entry with one click rather than going through "preview your post?" I'm still on dial up and am ticked at spending the extra time having to go through several clicks when previously I could do it with one click.
Another reason I couldn't blog yesterday is that I was finishing Harry Potter. I really enjoyed it and agree with Courtney about the libertarian elements. There is a a definite anti-government and anti-rule tilt to the whole series. The Ministry of Magic with all its departments, rules, and intrusions into people's lives seems like a wizard version of the EU. There is even a tint of Nazi Germany in the 30s with all the emphasis on who is pure blood and prejudice against Mudbloods.

As a teacher, I'm interested in how Hogwarts is run. This is supposed to be the elite wizarding school. Dumbledore is supposed to be the best headmaster possible. But there seems to be an unacceptably high number of mediocre teachers there. Defense against the Dark Arts should be the most important class in an age of Voldemort, and should be especially important in book five. Yet, Dumbledore hires teachers with real problems every year. You would think he would have made it a priority to find someone, even Snape, to teach that class, especially in light of the Ministry's rule about appointing teachers if Dumbledore can't find one. If he has connections all over the wizarding universe with the great wizards of his day, how come he can't get one of them to teach a decent class? He comes up with a new divination teacher pretty quickly.

Plus, this whole system of awarding points to each house seems very suspect to me when leaders of each house can award points to their own house and subtract points from competing houses. Dumbledore seems indifferent to how this is being abused. He also doesn't seem to care about teachers picking on particular students. What does he do all day in all these books? How come it is left up to a few kids in each book to defeat the powers of evil? Can't the great wizard take a hand sometimes? He must know about all the rules being broken and what the kids are up to, yet, he leaves it in their hands in each book to be the ones to save the wizarding universe. That's a little too laissez faire for me.

Well, I can finally get back onto Blogger. I was being moved over to the new Blogger yesterday and couldn't blog. So far, I'm not pleased. I'm waiting to be impressed.

Wednesday, June 25, 2003

The New York Observer looks at Dean's supporters, the "Deanie Babies." I love that.
Politics is working on the ACC. Now, they're going to extend the invitation to join just to Miami and Virginia Tech. Those Virginia politicians who were worried about the Big East and how it would affect Virginia Tech, now can calm down.
The Anti-Defamation League says that Mel Gibson's movie about Jesus Christ may stir up anti-semitism.
David Broder wants Bush to consult with democrats before making a Supreme Court nomination. He cites the example of Orrin Hatch (whom my husband wants to trade to the Democrats) who claims that he was the one who suggested Ginsburg and Breyer to President Clinton. both sailed through the Senate without a hitch. As if Bush could nominate someone as far to the right as Ginsburg is to the left and have him/her sail through the Senate as Ginsburg did. The Dems would never be as gentle as the Republicans would be if Bush chose a qualified, but conservative nominee. How naive is David Broder? Of course, Hatch himself might go through without much of a fuss. Ugh. I'd prefer the fuss.
Walter Williams looks at violence in inner city schools and asks why we tolerate it?
I could post about a hundred different columns and entries saying why O'Connor's affirmative action decision was terrible. I think I'll desist for a bit. I don't want to become a Unablogger. But, if you're interested, check out some of these sources: Townhall Columnists, The Volokh Conspiracy, or National Review.
Ben Shapiro explains why he loves affirmative action.
Cragg Hines looks at how Dean muffed his Meet the Press interview. Hines is most concerned about Dean's flip on the death penalty. Dean has not been having a good week. First his son got arrested helping to break into a country club to steal beers. (Notice how much less press attention, this has been getting than Bush's daughters buying a drink.) Then Dean makes a joke about breaking into a country club. Not good.
Dean was asked how he would win support of Democratic Party leaders given his frequent criticism of them and he responded that the leaders would come around once they got to know him.

"It is a bit of a club down there," he said. "The Democratic Party, all the candidates from Washington, they all know each other, they all move in the same circles, and what I'm doing is breaking into the country club."

Paul Dean is accused of driving the car while three friends broke into an outbuilding at the country club to steal beer.

On Monday, Dean winced when he heard his own words.

"That was an incredibly unfortunate phrase," he said.

"Why do I say these things?" Dean asked a press aide.

Walter Shapiro looks at the role timing could play in the Democratic contest. Fortunately, I think hs fantasy about John Edwards seems to have a low chance to coming to pass.

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

The Washington Post points out that, in polls, Americans like affirmative action in theory but don't like how it works in reality.
Slate has Walter Dellinger and Dahlia Lithwick, both affirmative action supporters, discussing the Supreme Court this week in their breakfast table section. Although both are happy about yesterday's decision, Lithwick is, at least, honest enough to say that O'Connor's ruling is incoherent.
But intellectual honesty doesn't let me accept O'Connor's basic ends-justifies-the-means approach to upholding the principle. And so much of your analysis today suggests that this is what's best about O'Connor's opinion: She got it morally right, even where she's logically wrong. As you put it: Powell's opinion in Bakke is riddled with logical flaws but is nevertheless "wise." Why? Because we need affirmative action. And so even if a program singles out only three traditionally underrepresented races, and offers them special advantages under the fiction of fostering "educational diversity," we'll laud it because the alternative— doing away with such programs—is intolerable to us. But then, let's be honest. Justice Thomas is correct in his dissent when he argues that "diversity" means nothing and can't be the cornerstone of affirmative action jurisprudence. And Justice Scalia is right when he says (or rather bellows … ) that today's decisions in Gratz and Grutter will do nothing but further cloud and confuse the affirmative action debate for years to come.

Where do I even start? With O'Connor's odd emphasis on the benefits of "diversity" to "non-minority students"? That's crazy. Schools are not petting zoos—we don't fill them with lots of varied and interesting creatures merely as an end in itself. The diversity rationale has always been the weakest link in the affirmative action jurisprudence. As the dissenters point out, there are a lot of more satisfying ways to create a diverse class and foster tolerance and understanding than through an affirmative action program that uses race as a determinative factor.

The fact that O'Connor doesn't ever get to the Marks question (of whether Powell's opinion in Bakke is even the holding of the case) is just maddening, as is her use of all the catchwords: "individualized consideration" and "flexible" and "non-mechanical" all simply mean that when programs give minorities a boost informally rather than formally—with a wink rather than out in the open—those programs are legitimate. Grutter and Gratz simply stand for the jurisprudential proposition that numbers are per se bad, whereas words (like "critical mass") are per se permissible.

Dick Morris thinks that Bush has done a marvelous job of stealing the Democratic issues. Perhaps, that is why conservatives have been upset with Bush recently on such issues as tax breaks for groups that don't pay taxes, drug benefits through Medicare without reforming Medicare, and weasling on affirmative action.
George Will argues that race is increasingly meaning less and less in our society.
But America's fast-unfolding future will outrun the capacity of litigation to stay pertinent. What are called "race-conscious" remedies for social problems are going to seem increasingly problematic because race and ethnicity are increasingly understood to be not fixed but extremely fluid, hence dubious, scientific categories.

African Americans include descendants of African slaves, recent voluntary immigrants from Africa -- and from the Caribbean. The single category "Hispanic" sweeps together such very different groups as Cuban Americans, Dominican Americans, Guatemalan Americans, Salvadoran Americans, Mexican Americans. And immigrants from Argentina -- but not from Brazil.

Rapidly rising rates of intermarriage further the wholesome blurring of the picture of the nation. So does the fact that many Hispanics -- and Arab Americans -- chose "white" or "other" when asked to pick from among the 63 categories on the 2000 census form.

The increasing arbitrariness and unreality of official racial and ethnic categories will become apparent. After all, 100 years ago, Irish, Italian and Jewish immigrants were considered three different races.

Justice Clarence Thomas, who considers both Michigan programs unconstitutional denials of equal protection, quoted an 1865 Frederick Douglass address: "The American people have always been anxious to know what they shall do with us. . . . Do nothing with us! Your doing with us has already played the mischief with us. . . . All I ask is, give [the Negro] a chance to stand on his own legs. Let him alone!"

Notice that only some groups apparently add value or diversity. Does anyone seriously believe that admissions groups sit around and say, "Are you sure we got enough Jews or Italians or Irish in next year's class?"
The House is holding a hearing today on vouchers for DC schools. Let's hope that this measure passes both Houses and gets signed into law soon. Even the Washington Post supports the idea just as long as we throw more money at public schools in DC. It would be worth the added cost just to give these poor students in Washington, D.C. more options of where to go and also to set up one more experiment to show whether or not vouchers are a worthwhile way to improve education for students stuck in deadend schools.
David Frum says that O'Connor's "split the baby" decisions are simply setting the stage for even more litigation.
Sandra Day O’Connor is by all accounts a perfectly lovely person. People who have worked with her tell me that she is a very smart lawyer. But these cases in which she was the decisive vote exemplify her failure to do the job that people pay judges, and especially Supreme Court judges, to do. Courts are supposed to settle disputes. O’Connor decisions, by contrast, tend to provoke endless rounds of further litigation, as redistricters try to guess how squiggly a district can be before it becomes too squiggly and universities attempt to anticpate how much racial preference is too much. This isn’t law: It’s a high-stakes version of the children’s guessing game, “Getting warmer; getting colder.”

And history shows that when the law isn't clear, governments and others will end up trying to do what they wanted to do anyway before the Court ruled. Perhaps, we need to wait for O'Connor to retire and get a new justice who is willing to come down and one side or the other.
Peter Kirsanow has a very pessimistic take on what the Court's ruling on Michigan's law school will mean for the future.
It will take months, if not years, to fully assess the impact of Michigan, but there will be little immediate practical effect. Minority college enrollment will remain virtually unchanged. College-admissions officers will scramble to adjust their respective programs to comport with that of UM Law School. Black and Hispanic reading and math scores, as recently gauged by the National Assessment of Educational Progress, will lag woefully behind those of whites and Asians.

But while the immediate practical effect may be negligible, the long-term social cost will be pronounced. Aside from the violence the decision does to the rule of law, it has consigned at least one more generation of minorities to hard labor under the stigma of perceived incompetency. Politicians and society at large get another pass at addressing the real issues underlying minority academic underachievement — sub-par K-12 education and family environments incompatible with academic proficiency. The purported beneficiaries of preferences will continue to be harmed by the disincentives associated with the preference regime: As Thomas Sowell, Glenn Loury, and others have noted, those beneficiaries will be less inclined to invest time and energy in skill and performance enhancing activities that will allow them to be competitive.

Kirsanow's discussion of the majority's ruling is scathing. Read the whole thing. You may remember that Kirsanow was Bush's nominee to the Civil Rights Commission whom was so opposed by the Democratic appointees on the Commission that the administration had to get a federal judge to rule that Kirsanow could take his seat on the Commission.
The legal blogosphere is having a blast with Gephardt's comments that he'd use executive orders essentially to nullify any Supreme Court decision concerning affirmative action that he thought was wrong. Here, Eugene Volokh looks at the possibility that Gephardt secretly wants to undo Marbury v. Madison. Here is Gephardt's quote which preceded the actual decision by the Court.
"When I'm president, we'll do executive orders to overcome any wrong thing the Supreme Court does tomorrow or any other day,"
Now, should I use Gephart's quote with my AP Government students as an example of presidential power or of Gephardt's ignorance?
Erik Jaffe, writing for the Volokh Conspiracy, makes some cogent points about the effect of yesterday's rulings on larger, less elite schools. seems to me that less "elite" law schools than Michigan might have a substantially more difficult time defending their affirmative action policies in light of the interaction between Grutter and Gratz. One of the differences between the cases that I see is that admission for minority applicants to the law school was not virtually automatic (only 35% of minority applicants were admitted). At the undergraduate level, however, any minimally qualified (read "breathing") minority candidate was admitted. At mid-tier law schools, however, it is likely that an affirmative action policy would almost have to accept any minimally qualified candidate given the practical limits of the applicant pool, the cream-skimming by elite schools, and the need to admit a "critical mass." At some point along the scale of law schools, it will be utterly impossible to admit a critical mass of minority candidates because there will be no more candidates left to admit, their having all been pulled up to higher-tier law schools.

The sad consequence of this second observation is that students at non-elite law schools either will receive a racially non-diverse education or they will be exposed to progressively less-qualified candidates as schools have to dig disproportionately deeper in order to admit minorities. (That the problem is not merely linear is a function of the critical mass of students being a greater percentage of the student population than the percentage of minority students in the applicant pool as a whole.) The result is all the more problematic given that if no affirmative action were used, all minority applicants would still be able to go to law school, but most would go to a school of slightly lower ranking than otherwise. At schools more likely suited to their academic abilities, they would contribute as much as at a marginally more elite school, and they would perform more consistently in line with their classmates of similar academic background and ability. Now THAT would break down stereotypes far better than artificial elevation into academically "elite" institutions. It's comforting to know that the true "compelling" interest in this case is in helping high-ranked law schools improve their image. Surely the marginal educational difference for the entire population of law students and for society of having more minorities attend a Top-10 law school rather than attending schools 11-20, etc., is limited at best.

Andrew Sullivan has a lovely message commemorating the 10 year anniversary of finding out he was HIV positive. He also mentions that his survival is one reason that he refuses to demonize drug companies. There are some who like to bash those evil drug companies just up until the time they hear a diagnosis of disease for a loved one. I hope others will realize that drug companies, while obviously profit-seeking ventures, do a stupendous job for millions of people with terrible diseases. I so worry that tampering with these companies, whether through price fixing ventures like Maine has introduced or drug benefits through Medicare will result in a stagnant drug industry. If the United States does not do everything possible to encourage drug research, no other country on the planet will. And then, how many new people will be commemorating 10 year anniversaries of the diagnosis of a fatal disease?
Fred Barnes says that Howard Dean is not the straight talker he bills himself as. He's not the second coming of John McCain as Dean would like New Hampshire voters to believe.

Monday, June 23, 2003

Volokh notes a real bonehead comment that Dick Gephardt made. He apparently doesn't understand the Constitution and thinks that if he were president, he could overcome anything the Supreme Court decided on affirmative action that he didn't like by executive order.
Both Volokh and Balkin (who supports universities' using race to achieve diversity) make the point that this decision will place more of a burden on large universities since they'll have to devote more resources to going through applications on an individual basis instead of simply using racial preferences.
Volokh's blog is a good place to read what various lawyers are saying about the Michigan decision.
In Part II of the LA Times series on lobbying firms hiring relatives, the Times looks at Harry Reid of Nevada and how he's supported bills that relatives of his lobbied for. Not a good article for a vulnerable Democrat up for reelection. On the other hand, it would be very unfair if relatives of politicians were foreclosed from getting any job remotely related to politics.
Even though Drudge is reporting that Hillary has sold over 430,000 books, Mickey Kaus is still skeptical that Simon and Schuster won't be left with lots of remainders.
The report demanded by Democrats on whether the Texas Republicans wasted Department of Homeland Security funds in searching for a Democratic legislator fleeing the Legislature wasted much more DHS money than the original search request by the Republicans.
As always, Scrappleface has some great stuff. Check him out for spoofs on the NEA, Kerry, NARAL, and terrorists.
The Court did uphold Congress' power to force libraries to use antiporn filters. Since librarians can dismantle it for anyone who asks, the Court said it was not an undue burden.
Legal analysts will be buzzing today. The Supreme Court has upheld the affirmative action program at Michigan's law school but struck down the one at the undergraduate school. We'll have to wait for more analysis to figure out what it all means.
Fred Hiatt wonders why those who oppose tyrants aren't willing to do more about Burma's illegitimate regime?
Michael Ledeen on why we should support the Iranians protesting against the mullahs of Iran. History is on his side.
Support for democratic revolution comes naturally to Americans, and we all thrill at the spectacle of brave people challenging corrupt tyrants in the name of freedom. Yet a surprising number of commentators and policymakers are fighting against the prospect of open American support for the Iranian revolutionaries. Their most recent argument is that open approval and, worse still, modest material support from the United States would somehow tarnish the purity of the Iranian uprising and even prove counterproductive.

This sort of argument is not new; we have heard it whenever we have had a president brave enough to speak the truth to tyranny. We were told that it would be counterproductive to denounce the gulag system and support the Soviet dissidents, that the Jackson-Vanik law (linking trade with the Soviet Union to freedom to emigrate for Soviet Jews) would be counterproductive, and that we must at all costs refrain from calling for greater human rights in the People's Republic of China. Yet every time another tyrant falls, his surviving victims invariably tell us that our words of support gave hope and strength to the freedom fighters and weakened the resolve of their oppressors. Bukovsky, Sharansky, Ginsburg, Walesa and Havel know the power of American support, as do Gorbachev, Jaruzelski, Milosevic and Marcos.

Good bye to the Bug.
No one seems to want to say anything about this strike in western Iraq that may or may not have killed some Iraqi high cards. So, the Washington Post summarizes the rumors and then quotes some anonymous sources saying they don't know anything. The New York Times has basically the same approach. Ah... journalism.
The British papers seem to get all the good leaks. The Evening Standard is reporting that Saddam has written a letter with his proposed surrender terms. I don't think the defeated gets to dictate his terms.
These Iranian students really have chutzpah. Now, they are warning the mullahs against a crackdown on the student protests.
Conservatives can't wait for "Gore 24," Gore's proposed liberal cable station. We'll see if liberals are as eager to see what Gore would finance to appeal to the youth market. He and Karenna are so obviously in touch with the hip hop generation.
Here's the best thing since I took independent study PE in high school in Florida. Florida now offers teens the option of Online PE.
Wes Pruden looks at the "57 Varieties of John Kerry." I bet that is a joke we'll hear often in the next year.
This sounds like a victory. Belgium is amending its law on trying international criminals to limit its applicability to Belgian citizens. I guess that lets Ariel Sharon and Gen. Franks off the hook. Because, clearly, they are the worst international criminals that Belgium can find. Forget all those dictators who massacre thousands of people. They have nothing on anyone who is either Israeli or American!

Sunday, June 22, 2003

The Washington Times says that Kerry is lurching to the left in order to outflank Dean.
Turn Left has a Generator where you can create your own conspiracy.
Patrick Ruffini has an interesting formula to try to measure the enthusiasm for the Democratic candidates. His conclusion:
In a sense, two primary campaigns are being waged. One is for the hearts and minds of hardcore Democrats, one in which the party’s most prominent national leaders are being ignored, and where the Dean Fedayeen are sucking up 50% to 70% of the energy. The second is for all intents a shadow of the first; the scramble for name recognition, where Dean can’t break 5%. Emblematic of this contest is the fact that 66% of Americans can’t name a single Democrat running for the White House, and Lieberman, Kerry, and Gephardt are the most vaguely recognizable. In this primary, even Democrats who are likely to vote at the end of the day are picking their candidate out of thin air, and the number who have actually heard of the top 5 or 6 contenders – much less evaluated them side-by-side – numbers no more than a few million.

At some point, these two dynamics are going to have to be reconciled. Will Lieberman’s grassroots eventually catch up to his high name recognition, or will Dean leverage his near-monopoly over the grassroots Left as the number of interested Democratic primary voters grows by leaps and bounds? The advantage Dean has is that a growing Meetup constituency actually gives him a grassroots base in cities like Phoenix and Oklahoma City where early primary voting will actually take place – something no other candidate will have until very late in the game. The main question then becomes whether this Web-based mobilization will radicalize the shrinking Democratic primary base in the Red States and make it as liberal as it is in the Blue States, and hence fertile Dean territory?

Can Dean Berkeleyize the Heartland? In today’s Democratic Party, it’s certainly possible.

I can't see people getting radically excited by Kerry.
Polipundit notes that the GOP have issued this press release about Senator Kerry in a French version for all those in Canada and France hoping Kerry will be elected and searching for reasons to support him on the GOP website. What they're pointing out is actually quite cute. On last Sunday's (June 15)This Week with George Stephanopolous, this is what Kerry said
“George, again, I think it would be irresponsible of me at this point to draw conclusions prior to all the evidence being on the table. What I know is we have to get that evidence. We have to have an investigation to know to a certainty whether or not it was hype, whether we were misled …”
Sounds like he's calling for an investigation to find out whether we were misled. Then, 4 days later, on June 19, the Associated Press reported this
“Kerry said Wednesday that President Bush broke his promise to build an international coalition against Iraq’s Saddam Hussein and then waged a war based on questionable intelligence. ‘He misled every one of us,’ Kerry said.”
Then the GOP goes on to list all the quotes from Kerry prior to the war indicating his belief that Saddam had WMD. Sounds like le flip-flop.
I've been waiting for the cable news stations to go wild about the Observer's story that on Wednesday, we may have hit a convoy containing Saddam and one of his sons and that now we're testing the debris for a DNA match. So far, it's been mentioned a bit but nothing else. Maybe, this is because it's Sunday or maybe because it's just a report in one London newspaper, but usually the cable news stations don't need much more than a rumor to chew on for several hours. It will be interesting to see what people say on Monday when they have to fill all day on the news channels. However, the New York TImes International seems to be jumping the gun on freighting the little we know with some more meaning. Note this headline from the Times.
Senators Are Optimistic That U.S. Hit Hussein's Convoy
But, if you read the story, "optimistic" does not seem the appropriate word. Here is what the story actually says.
Leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee expressed a guarded hope today that United States missiles might have hit a convoy thought to have been carrying Saddam Hussein.

Asked about a reported missile attack Wednesday on a convoy in western Iraq, Senator Pat Roberts, chairman of the committee, said that he would "not be surprised" to learn that Mr. Hussein had been killed.

It was an intriguing comment from a man who regularly receives top-secret briefings, though Mr. Roberts, Republican of Kansas, quickly added that he had received no confirmation regarding Mr. Hussein.

Mr. Hussein is believed to have escaped at least two previous bombing attempts on his life, and the vice chairman of Mr. Roberts' committee, Senator John D. Rockefeller IV, said it was too soon to reach conclusions.

"But with this very aggressive effort that we have been mounting," Mr. Roberts said on Fox TV, "I would not be surprised" to learn Mr. Hussein was dead.

And King Abdullah of Jordan told a television interviewer that he understood Mr. Hussein had been traveling in the part of Iraq where the attack was reported to have occurred.

The headline seems misleading for what Roberts actually said. "I would not be surprised," does not imply optimism or even a "guarded hope." I think we've already been burned twice and no one official wants to say anything until we see the DNA chart on TV. We can all hope, however, that this is all true. Then, we'd truly have gin with our deck of cards.
Stay tuned for the Michigan decision this week.
The LA Times has an interesting story on how one method for interest groups to gain influence is to hire the relatives of influential congressmen.
William Saletan examines the rhetoric that John Edwards is using.
Doubts are growing that any Justice, particularly Rehnquist will step down this summer. The Post story also explodes the supposed truism that Justices announce their retirements in June when the session ends.
Yet history can be an uncertain guide in such matters. Take the widely held assumption that traditionally justices announce their resignations at the end of June, when the court's term ends.

The last two justices to step down, Harry A. Blackmun in 1994 and White in 1993, announced their resignations in April and March, respectively. Of the last 10 justices who resigned, only two -- Lewis F. Powell Jr. and Thurgood Marshall -- announced at the end of the term. Only two others, Potter Stewart and Warren E. Burger, announced in June.

Democrats seem united only on one thing: they despise George W. Bush.
The New York Times Magazine has a fascinating study of how a "transcranial magnetic stimulator" can give people amazing abilities while they're hooked up to a machine. We're talking a real-life science fiction story.
Courtney blogs on the libertarian elements in Harry Potter. (link via Instapundit)
MSNBC looks at the odds for which character gets killed off in Harry V.
David Broder looks at the importance of fund-raising now in the "invisible primary."
George Will says that it is still crucial to find the WMD. However, he quotes James Woolsey, the former CIA director, with a plausible explanation as to what happened to Saddam's WMD.
As war approached, Hussein, a killer but not a fighter, was a parochial figure who had not left Iraq since 1979. He was surrounded by terrified sycophants and several Russian advisers who assured him that if Russia could not subdue Grozny in Chechnya, casualty-averse Americans would not conquer Baghdad.

Based on his experience in the 1991 Persian Gulf War, Hussein assumed there would be a ground offensive only after prolonged bombing. U.S. forces would conquer the desert, then stop. He could manufacture civilian casualties -- perhaps by blowing up some of his own hospitals -- to inflame world opinion and could count on his European friends to force a halt in the war, based on his promise to open Iraq to inspections, having destroyed his WMD on the eve of war.

Or shortly after the war began. Hussein, suggests Woolsey, was stunned when Gen. Tommy Franks began the air and ground offenses simultaneously and then "pulled a Patton," saying, in effect, never mind my flanks, I'll move so fast they can't find my flanks. Hussein, Woolsey suggests, may have moved fast to destroy the material that was the justification for a war he intended to survive, and may have survived.

Here is an EXTREMELY important study.
Married guys, are you having trouble lighting up the love of your life? Try doing the housework with your kids.

Not only will your wife be more likely to see you as more sexually attractive, your children stand a better chance of being well-adjusted and socially aware, claim sociologist Scott L. Coltrane and research associate Michele Adams of the University of California at Riverside.

"When men perform domestic service for others, it teaches children cooperation and democratic family values," said Coltrane in a statement released with the study. An added bonus: Women interpret their hubbies' contributions around the home as a sign of love and caring, and are more sexually attracted to them, he said.

ALL husbands should be paying attention to this result!
Here's an interesting editorial that argues that an impartial jury does not imply an ignorant jury.
The Washington Post looks at the excitement in households that erupted in households across the country yesterday as Harry Potter arrived.
Here's a real "Duh!" headline from the Washington Post.
GOP Aims for Dominance in '04 Race

Republicans to Seek Governing Majority by Feeding Base, Courting New Voters
I guess it comes as a real shocker to the Post that the Republicans would like to do well in 2004.
Kenneth Pollack, a former Clinton official, still believes that Saddam had WMD.
Actually, there are many possible explanations. Saddam Hussein may have underestimated the likelihood of war and not filled any chemical weapons before the invasion. He may have been killed or gravely wounded in the "decapitation" strike on the eve of the invasion and unable to give the orders. Or he may have just been surprised by the extremely rapid pace of the coalition's ground advance and the sudden collapse of the Republican Guard divisions surrounding Baghdad. It is also possible that Iraq did not have the capacity to make the weapons, but given the prewar evidence, this is still the least likely explanation.

The one potentially important discovery made so far by American troops — two tractor-trailers found in April and May that fit the descriptions of mobile germ-warfare labs given by Iraqi defectors over the years — might well point to a likely explanation for at least part of the mystery: Iraq may have decided to keep only a chemical and biological warfare production capability rather than large stockpiles of the munitions themselves. This would square with the fact that several dozen chemical warfare factories were rebuilt after the first gulf war to produce civilian pharmaceuticals, but were widely believed to be dual-use plants capable of quickly being converted back to chemical warfare production.

In truth, this was always the most likely scenario. Chemical and biological warfare munitions, especially the crude varieties that Iraq developed during the Iran-Iraq War, are dangerous to store and handle and they deteriorate quickly. But they can be manufactured and put in warheads relatively rapidly — meaning that there is little reason to have thousands of filled rounds sitting around where they might be found by international inspectors. It would have been logical for Iraq to retain only some means of production, which could be hidden with relative ease and then used to churn out the munitions whenever Saddam Hussein gave the word.

Isn't it clear that Saddam had the will to have WMD and was busy acquiring the capability to quickly turn dual use technology over to the production of WMD when he felt the time was ripe. Even if you buy the argument is that Bush exaggerated the urgency of going to war this Spring, isn't it better to have gone to war before he switched to producing those weapons?
Mark Steyn is optimistic about the end of theocratic dictatorship in Iran.
A year ago, I wrote of Iran: ''So far as one can tell from the patchy reports, it sounds more like Hungary 1956 than Czechoslovakia 1989.'' The reports are still patchy but this summer's looking more like 1989 every day. The only question is which of the European models applies: the Czech version, where the old monsters are civilized enough to perform one real service for their people by handing power over peacefully; the Romanian version, where the saner elements in the ruling party decide to remove the leadership and hope that's enough to assuage their subjects; the Bulgar version, where the former Royal Family returns from exile to spearhead a new democracy . . .

I'll wager there are more than a few quiet-life mullahs weighing the options. Iran is not a one-man cult like Saddam's Iraq, and many imams, whether ''conservative'' or ''liberal,'' can recognize the smell of death percolating from the head office. The regime begins this year's riot season see-sawing between savage but ineffective crackdowns and humiliating but insufficient concessions. Tipping point beckons.

People often use sport metaphors to discuss politics. Well, in the story of the possible expansion of the ACC by inviting Big East teams to join them shows an almost humorous intersection of politics and sports in Virginia.
Dave Barry looks at how newspapers have lost their credibility.
We are worried, here in the newspaper business (motto: "What, YOU never make misstakes?"). We're hearing that you readers have lost your faith in us. Polls show that, in terms of public trust, the news media now rank lower than used-car salespeople, kidnappers, tapeworms, Hitler, and airline flight announcements. (We are still slightly ahead of lawyers.)

Of course, these poll results were reported by the news media, so they could be wrong. In fact, there might not actually have been any polls; it's possible that some reporter made the whole "media credibility" story up.

But I don't think so. I think the public is genuinely unhappy with us. Lately, when I tell people I work for a newspaper, I've detected the subtle signs of disapproval -- the dirty looks; the snide remarks; the severed animal heads in my bed.

How did we get into this situation? Without pointing the finger of blame at any one institution, I would say it is entirely the fault of the New York Times.

Dean has had to issue his third apology to his political rivals for the Democratic nomination. As aide to Kerry put it, "It's hard to be a straight-talk candidate when you spend most of your time apologizing for things you know aren't correct."