Monday, January 31, 2005

My daughter discusses dumb names for schools. She knows whereof she speaks since she went to the middle school where I taught for over 10 years, Carnage Middle School. Fred J. Carnage was the first black man on the Wake County School Board in Raleigh. Apparently, he was a wonderful man. However, no middle school, especially an inner city school, should be named "carnage."

However, it did intimidate other teams when we went to academic competitions. Perhaps that is why we were successful. The other teams were afraid of what we'd do to them if we lost.
Hugh Hewitt on his radio show just called Harry Reid a "sleeping pill with shoes on." Wonderful! I don't think I'll ever seen Reid without thinking of that. Just like how Rush Limbaugh once had a comment on how huge Congressman Henry Waxman's nostrils are and I haven't been able to think of anything else whenever I see the guy. It's immature, I know, but there it is.
Glenn Reynolds has his own theories about why the Democrats won't celebrate more the emergence of democracy in Iraq.
What's hard to understand is why so many Democrats -- including big-name Democrats like Ted Kennedy and John Kerry -- have taken such a different stance today. Kennedy declared the war lost and the elections a failure just last week. Kerry was churlish and negative on Meet the Press yesterday. Mickey Kaus blames the Internet for this attitude, and there may be something to that. Jim Geraghty thinks it's the 2008 primaries already. But I don't think either of these explanations hits the mark.

I think it's jealousy. Bush-hatred has become all-consuming among a large section of the Democratic Party, and they can't stand the thought of anything that reflects well on him, even if it's good for the country, and if it's something that was their idea originally.

The question is whether the Democratic Party -- which ought to be cheering events that vindicate Clinton's policies -- will do itself fatal damage by giving in to envy. Such small-mindedness doesn't suggest a party that's ready to govern.

Jim Geraghty travels to the Democratic Underground to see how truly unhappy they are that the Iraqis had a successful election. The DU would prefer apparently that the election had been a bloody failure rather than for something happens that brings credit to Bush.
The Wall Street Journal has a wonderful roundup of links to Iraqi bloggers. It is so great to share vicariously in their joy. (Link via Shining Light)
Warren Bell has his own theory to explain why men are funnier than women.
Okay, show of hands: How many girls memorized all the dialogue from Monty Python and the Holy Grail when they were 14? No one? Not a surprise. But I did, and a ton of other guys did, followed by Steve Martin routines, Coneheads sketches, and the big John Belushi "Who's with me?" speech at the end of Animal House. What in the world led us to do that? Why is being funny important to young men? Does the Y chromosome carry something the X doesn't?

Well, here's an argument against anything genetic. I know for a fact that I wasn't born funny. I learned it in my teens as a way of getting attention. I wasn't a good athlete or particularly easy on the eyes, so getting a laugh was my best shot at getting girls to notice me. A good sense of humor is never going to compete with a 90-mph fastball in terms of babe appeal, but it's a better path to alpha-male status than, oh, say, learning to program a Radio Shack TRS-80 home computer. (I did that! So lonely!)

Most funny people I know tell more or less the same story: They learned to be funny in order to be noticed, sometimes by parents, frequently by the opposite sex. (One writer I know contemplated calling his company "Look at Me! Productions.") Young girls who want attention have other weapons — they can scream, they can cry, they can grow breasts. They can be heartbreakingly beautiful and call me a nerd for imitating the Coneheads all the time. Learning to be funny would seem, for girls, to be more of a last resort.
Well, I can testify that it is the boys who have memorized every piece of dialogue from The Simpsons, Monty Python, and South Park these days. Girls know some of this, but boys way outnumber the girls in their knowledge of these shows. My daughters might rival the boys on their Seinfeld knowledge, but would have to concede on The Simpsons and Monty Python. And most "class clowns" I have had were boys. So, if that is a predicate for becoming an adult comedian, I will concede that the boys have a headstart.
This has to be the most fun non-Iraqi election story today.
Psychologists and handwriting experts were drafted in by the press in the hope of getting a glimpse into the inner workings of the prime ministerial mind.

Newspaper stories contained phrases such as "struggling to concentrate" and "not a natural leader".

Now - and with not a little glee - Downing Street has revealed that the scribblings were not the work of the premier, but that of one Bill Gates of Microsoft.

Here are some examples of what the British papers interpreted from the supposed Blair doodles. Here is the Independent.
The Independent asked Helen Taylor, a graphologist, to analyse the writing and, just for fun, Nina Ashby, a clairvoyant who specialises in the interpretation of patterns, to investigate Mr Blair's extensive use of symbols. She said: "It shows he's full of aggressive, nervous energy, which is driving him on. But it is not rooted in practicality. It's more aspirational, as indicated by the slanting writing. A more practical person would be expected write more horizontally.

"The boxes suggest he is trying to compartmentalise things, possibly for delegation, but some look as if they are going to collapse. The relative sizes of the boxes and the letters indicate his priorities."

She added: "I think he's under pressure, trying to complete his circles, but not always succeeding. And it suggests this is not a natural leader. It is a person of a religious nature, perhaps a vicar, not sure of his priorities." Ms Ashby concluded that Mr Blair was easily able to compartmentalise matters; organisations such as the G8 and the International Finance Fund are firmly ringed and boxed. "But as you get further down, the boxes and circles and triangles overlap and crowd in on each other and the focus is on issues, such as Aids and trade.

"Look at the triangle goalposts: one is trapped among circles and boxes, the other free and isolated. It creates a more confusing picture and suggests things are in danger of getting out of control."
The London Times expert even noticed that the handwriting was different from Blair's usual writing and formed some great hypotheses based on this change in handwriting. Apparently, it didn't occur to anyone that the change might have stemmed from having a DIFFERENT WRITER.

Mrs Bache, who regularly carries out employee assessments for firms such as Barings, said: “I analysed his writing 18 months ago and there are marked differences. Then, his writing was much more fluid indicating that he felt more easy-come-easy-go. The ticks, such as the upward stroke on the ‘t’ in taxes, were not so angular.

“He is a lot more assertive and aggressive than in recent years because there are lots of very angular strokes. There is a lack of curves and a lot of irritability which he is struggling to keep under control.

“There is also a lot of retracing of the strokes, which I have never seen him do before. He is feeling very much under pressure so an obsessive-compulsive nature is coming out. The pressure he is putting on the pen is also quite heavy, which is an indication of stress and tension.” Mr Blair may have been feeling some antipathy towards those at the meeting, including the Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates and the rock star Bono, who are both considerably richer than him, she added.

Ms Bache said that the Prime Minister’s writing changed depending on whom he was writing to. “There are some people who really get his goat. If he doesn’t like someone he becomes very aggressive with big ticks like the one on the end of the ‘t’ in taxes.”

The Prime Minister has always used upward loops in his writing which indicate someone who is particularly concerned with appearances, according to Ms Bache.

She said: “There are a lot of phallic symbols — loops such as the ‘b’ and the ‘l’ in debt cancellation — which he’s always had in his handwriting.” She added: “You often get these loops with artistic and creative people, but Tony Blair is not in this category. With him it’s a case that he is too easily swayed by appearance.”

Mr Blair’s handwriting and doodles also demonstrated an overwhelming desire to stand his ground in the face of criticism, even when he knows he is wrong. “He is someone who doesn’t like to lose face . . . He is incredibly stubborn; you can see this from the way the ‘t’ in ‘taxes’ is below the baseline. Even when he knows he is wrong he won’t back down.”

Here is the Mirror.
Psychologist Elaine Quigley says the loopy letters and boxed-up issues are the tell-tale signs that our leader is a bit of daydreamer hoping for the best.

Blair even mis-spells the name of Porto Alegre, Brazil, which he calls Allegro, where he is to attend a crucial summit with leaders of the developing world, union chiefs and campaign groups.

But Ms Quigley adds that his extensive use of triangles indicates a constructive and practical approach.

She says: "He is struggling to concentrate and his mind is going everywhere, but he knows he will get to the bottom of the problems in time. That's Teflon Tony.

"We can see the way the Prime Minister's mind works, not only by the way he fills in his boxes, but also by the size and clarity of his priorities.

"The most readable of his doodles are the points that he believes will catch the public interest."
Read the rest of the analysis. It's just too funny. Now they have to switch and say that all this is about Bill Gates instead. It never occurred to these great journalists to ask 10 Downing Street if the doodles belonged to Blair. No, they were in too much of a hurry to run out to talk to graphologists. Tony must be having a good giggle about all of this.
Apparently, even the Arab media recognized what the real story was yesterday. It almost makes you think that they would like to see electinos in their own countries.
After nearly two years of providing up-to-the-minute images of explosions and mayhem, and despite months of predictions of a blood bath on election day, some news directors said they found the decision surprisingly easy to make. The violence simply was not the story on Sunday morning; the voting was.

Overwhelmingly, Arab channels and newspapers greeted the elections as a critical event with major implications for the region, and many put significant resources into reporting on the voting, providing blanket coverage throughout the country that started about a week ago. Newspapers kept wide swaths of their pages open, and the satellite channels dedicated most of the day to coverage of the polls.

Often criticized for glorifying Iraq's violence if not inciting it, Arab news channels appeared to take particular care in their election day reporting. For many channels, the elections were treated on a par with the invasion itself, on which the major channels helped build their names.

Far from the almost nightly barrage of blood and tears, Al Arabiya and Al Jazeera, the kings of Arab news, on Sunday barely showed the aftermath of insurgent attacks.

....For many Arabs, the strong turnout on election day proved a unique opening, one that made the debate on television screens more nuanced. On Al Jazeera, especially, many Iraqis lauded the process even as analysts from other Arab countries and Iraqis tied to the former government of Saddam Hussein denounced the elections for having occurred under occupation, and for having been centered on sectarian issues.

"Things used to be a negotiation between political parties where you scratch my back and I scratch your back," noted one commentator, Abas al-Bayati, on Al Jazeera. "Now, this new government will approach all the parties as having the backing of the people. It will have legitimacy." And that legitimacy should allow the government to face down the insurgents, he added.

With the relative lack of violence, many nerves appeared calmed. Iraqis, especially, may have been emboldened by the coverage.

"What was important is that the satellite channels were taking us throughout the region, and also showed everyone how Iraqis outside Iraq were adamant and focused on voting," said Imad Hmoud, editor in chief of the newspaper Al Ghad in Jordan. "That was very important for people, especially Iraqis, to see."
Check out this story from the New York Magazine on the doom and gloom at CBS after the reprot on the Rathergate story came out. It seems like most people at CBS are discouraged and angry. So, they're all leaking to the NYM reporter to tell us how mad they are at Les Moonves, Andy Heyward, and Dan Rather. And they're not so impressed with the commission's report.
The commission itself has also come under attack, largely by supporters of those punished after its findings were released. None of those involved in the CBS panel—retired Associated Press executive Louis Boccardi, former U.S. attorney general Richard Thornburgh, and lawyers from the firm of Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Nicholson Graham—had any direct experience with investigative journalism. The commission’s interviews were conducted on the nineteenth floor of “Black Rock,” the CBS corporate headquarters on West 52nd Street, a short walk from the supersize office of Leslie Moonves. No tape recordings were made. The two commissioners and lawyers scribbled handwritten notes on the proceedings—when they were in the room, that is. At various times, either Boccardi or Thornburgh were said to be absent from interviews with witnesses. It seemed to the panel’s critics an oddly casual approach for a commission with a mandate to investigate unscrupulous journalistic practices. (emphasis added)

Yup, doesn't it though?
Bill Roggio is not impressed with the power of Al Qaeda. The election truly showed the limites of their power.
John Podhoretz says what the analysts on TV won't admit. Many people are unhappy that the election came off successfully yesterday. And it's not just the terrorists.
WHEN you heard about the stunning success of the Iraqi elections, were you thrilled? Did you see it as a triumph for democracy and for the armed forces of the United States that have sacrificed and suffered and fought so valiantly over the past 18 months to get Iraq to this moment?
Or did you momentarily feel an onrush of disappointment because you knew, you just knew, that this was going to redound to the credit of George W. Bush? This means you, Michael Moore. I'm talking to you, Teddy Kennedy.

And not just to the two of you, but to all those who follow in your train.

There are literally millions of Americans who are unhappy today because millions of Iraqis went to the polls yesterday. And why? Because this isn't just a success for Bush. It's a huge win. It's a colossal vindication.

It's a big fat gigantic winning vindication of the guy that the Moores and Kennedys and millions of others still can't believe anybody voted for.

And they know it.

And it's killing them.

Case in point: the junior Eeyore from Massachusetts, John Forbes Kerry, who had the distinct misfortune of being booked onto "Meet the Press" yesterday only 90 minutes after the polls closed in Iraq — and couldn't think of a thing to say that didn't sound negative.

"No one in the United States should try to overhype this election," said the man who actually came within 3 million votes of becoming the leader of the Free World back in November.

No? How about "underhyping"? How about belittling it? How about acting as though it doesn't matter all that much? That's what Kerry did, and in so doing, revealed yet again that he has the emotional intelligence of a pet rock and the political judgment of a . . . well, of a John Kerry.

At the worst possible time to express pessimistic skepticism, Kerry did just that. The election only had a "kind of legitimacy," he said. He said he "was for the election taking place" (how big of him!), but then said that "it's gone as expected."

Hey, wait a second. If it went as Kerry "expected," how could he have been "for the election taking place" — since the election only had, in his view, a "kind of legitimacy"?

I mean, who would want an election with only a "kind of legitimacy"?

Is Kerry perhaps saying he was for the election before he was against it?

Read the rest. And snickering is allowed.
Boi from Troy notes how divisive Bush has made the Iraqi people.
News out of Iraq should send chills of distress around the world. As voting ended, turnout was estimated at 72%. Although Andrew Sullivan may or may not consider that a success*, it reflects a 28% decline from voting in Iraq'a last election. Furthermore, the unity that marked Iraq's 2002 election has been dissolved by the Bush Administration's divisive policies. The consensus which marked the last election has fallen apart to the point that one party may not even gain a majority. (Link from Mickey Kaus)

I love his snarkiness.
Even Zogby shows results that personal savings accounts are popular among Democratic voting groups. Of course, once the AARP, AFL CIO, and the Democratic Party get done demonizing any reform proposal, these numbers will go down. It will take a lot of counter advertising to take advantage of these results.
"The Democrats are very busy turning 48 percent of the vote into a free fall, and that's not easy to do. They are not talking to their own base, let alone to the rest of middle America," he said.
Numerous polls over the years, and Mr. Zogby's latest national poll released last week, show that the core of the president's plan is popular among many traditionally Democratic voting blocs. Last week's poll by Zogby International found that 30 percent of all Democrats like the idea.
Support among minorities is even greater. An Annenberg poll in December showed that 54 percent of Hispanics supported the concept of "allowing workers to invest Social Security funds in the stock market."
More than 51 percent of black voters, the Democrats' most loyal constituency, say they would like to privately invest as much as half of the payroll tax in individual accounts, according to Mr. Zogby.
"The personal accounts have enormous appeal, whether Republicans or Democrats. That's going to create some challenges for the Democrats who are standing foursquare in opposition to the president's proposal," said Republican pollster Whit Ayres. "They stand to alienate a lot of younger people who would like more control over their retirement assets."
Mickey Kaus wonders why Kennedy would be dumb enough to give a big anti-Iraq speech right before the election.
Even if that's what Kennedy thought, why would he put himself in the position where a successful election made him look at least temporarily like a fool (as, apparently, it has)?
Hey, I go for the simplest explanation. Perhaps, Kennedy is a fool.
The Washington Times looks at how some Congressmen and women get to the House chamber hours early just so they can be on the aisle and be photographed shaking the President's hand when he comes in for the State of the Union.
"They often have to get there hours in advance to get these seats by the aisle," said Norman Ornstein, a congressional expert with the American Enterprise Institute, a nonpartisan think tank. "Some members of Congress squeal in delight when the president comes by and shakes their hand and recognizes them and everyone can see it on television."
Among the other members who are usually by the aisle when a president of either party comes in are Reps. Mark Foley, Florida Republican; Cynthia McKinney, Georgia Democrat; and Sheila Jackson-Lee, Texas Democrat.
You watch McKinney and Jackson-Lee will be there for Bush. They've been there for the past four that I've watched. I'm not sure what they get out of that since they get plenty of media coverage everytime they hold a press conference to trash Bush.
Jay Bryant implies that the next democracy will be easier in the Middle East.
The first one of anything is very expensive. The first Tylenol, the first Corvette, the first personal computer. The next one is a whole lot cheaper.

The first Arabic democracy cost, among other things, hundreds of billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars and the lives of, to date, 1430 brave and wonderful members of the American armed forces.

Yesterday, Free Iraq rolled out of the factory, while the proud workers – the Iraqi electorate – raised their blue-dyed fingers and grinned at anybody who had a camera; someday, they will tell their grandchildren how they braved the nihilistic terrorists to cast their ballots in the first free election in the Arab world. And when the last of them has finally passed away – even as, in his time, the last American voter of 1789 passed away – the history books in his country will tell of that formative time when Iraq took its place on the list of the free nations of the world. Perhaps those textbooks will be filled with praise for America; perhaps, as we do with the French, they will underplay the role their country’s powerful friend played, and take all the credit themselves. It doesn’t really matter.
Isn't that a wonderful thought to think of history books in Iraq that will look at the election as the foundational moments of a thriving Iraqi democracy?
It is so inspirational to read about Iraqis waiting in line to vote while the bodies of victims of a suicide blast are cleared away. In fact, the terrorists may have actually increased the turnout. Voting became an act against the terrorists. Maybe, the terrorists will realize that they're being counterproductive of their goals, but I have no such faith.

I love this guy's response.
"I would have been happy to have died voting at the time of this explosion, because this is terrorism mixed with rudeness," said Saif Aldin Jarah, 61, a balding man with white hair who leaned on his daughter, Shyamaa, as he shuffled into the afternoon sunlight after casting his ballot.

"When terrorism becomes aimless and without a goal, it becomes rudeness," Jarah said, holding aloft a finger stained purple with indelible ink. "How could they force people not to vote?"

Rudeness. Beauti
Robert Novak reports that some big time Democratic money people are claiming that they'll never give another dime to the Democratic Party as long as Dean is chair.

That's interesting, but I think it's all smoke. If Dean were chair and they start gearing up for the 2006 elections to win back seats and stop the evil George Bush from his dastardly plans, those pocketbooks will open up. Plus, I suspect that Dean wouldn't be as wacky as some on the right are hoping. He'd be no more of an embarrassment than Terry McAuliffe and that didn't stop these people from contributing. I think they're just trying to use NOvak to get their guys elected.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Bernard Higgins wonders if there is anything that makes Democrats happy.
John Hawkins got together to have a symposium with Hugh Hewitt, LaShawn Barber, and Karol Sheinin to have a discussion about blogging and the future of blogging.
This snotty columnist thinks it's a terrible idea, but if I had a kid who still had to take the SAT's I would buy one of these SAT Shower Curtains. Why shouldn't a kid learn the top 100 SAT words in the shower. What an easy way to learn vocabulary.

I'm a strong believer in learning things in the wasted moments in the day. I tell my students to put sticky notes on the mirror in the bathroom or on the kitchen cabinets for things they have to learn. By the time they're done brushing their teeth or washing a dish they'll have learned it. Another idea that I tell my students and which my own children have used is to use a dry erase marker to write the material on the shower wall. The writing will stay up during the shower but come off with a simple wipe. My own daughters have learned calculus formulas and Latin vocabulary in the shower this way. When I was young, my parents put a poster of information on all the presidents up in the bathroom. By the time I was seven, I'd learned all the presidents and knew all sorts of facts simply from staring at that poster every day. I studied for the AP US History exam myself by putting up a list of all the important Supreme Court decisions in the bathroom for a few weeks before the test. The kids laugh when I recommend my ideas on studying in the bathroom, but believe me, it works.

I think these shower curtains sound like a great idea and would make a wonderful gift for anyone trying to improve his or her vocabulary. If you don't want to buy a shower curtain, just invest in some dry erase markers. Just be sure not to write in the grout of the shower tile!
Time Magazine looks at the prospects vying for the Democratic nomination in 2008. John Kerry, of course. What a dreary prospect. He is even more boring and pompous after losing than before, if that is possible. Hillary Clinton of course, hoping to ride her husband's infidelity to one more elected office. Mark Warner has read all the press about him and hopes to show that a Southern governor is the way to go. Bill Richardson and Evan Bayh are exploring their chances. John Edwards didn't get the hint. And Wesley Clark is even more delusional now than he was when he first tried to get the 2004 nomination. It's going to be a long four years, folks.
K Lo on The Corner catches this oops moment on CNN.
A close watcher catches a CNN blooper: At 8 am, Jane Arraf reports a "nightmare" situation at school polling station in Baquba, Sunni area. No Iraqi election commission workers had shown up. But, at 9:15, viewers learn Arraf had just shown up at the wrong school, which was not a polling site. The real polling site was actually open. At 9:30, Arraf reports that she is "now at 'another' polling site. No mea culpa/recognition of previous mistake. Her new polling station is crowded and jubilant.
I saw that first report. Glad that it was just her mistake.
Security was very thorough for this election.
Brian Williams on MSNBC just admitted that he and NBC reporters have been confined to quarters so they don't know what the response to the election. Hmmmm. I saw the Fox reporter walking the street and reporting from election sites.
The New York Times looks at the jockeying to be head of DNC. Then, in the midst of the story, they have a totally gratuitous cut at GOP chairmen.
This is not the first time that the competition to run a party has been intense, particularly on the Republican side. The job can be a steppingstone to money (Ed Gillespie, the former Republican Party chairman, is now a lobbyist in Washington) or political stature (Haley Barbour is now the governor of Mississippi, and Jim Nicholson is the new secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs.)

Hmmm. What was Terry McAuliffe doing before he became DNC chair and what is he going to be doing now? Making money, I suspect.
John Howard is a mensch! Bless him.
JOHN Howard has lashed out at "old Europe", describing criticism of the US as "unfair and irrational", as global tensions grow over the Iraq war and free trade.

During a vigorous panel debate on US global relations at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, several European officials attacked President George W. Bush's Iraq policy, but Mr Howard stood up to defend his ally.

Earlier in the summit, Mr Howard attacked the European Union over the reintroduction of wheat export subsidies, which he said harmed underdeveloped nations and were contrary to free trade.

"Some of the criticism (of the US) by some of the Europeans is unfair and irrational," the Prime Minister said in the panel debate, organised by Britain's BBC TV.

"I mean, the negative mindset of the last five minutes (of this debate) is ridiculous – of course America has made mistakes," he said.

Later Mr Howard told The Australian he found the European "irrational level of anti-Americanism" perplexing.

"It is a sign of parochialism and it is disturbingly intense."

He said the BBC debate "was based on an anti-American mindset which was established right at the beginning by the moderators from the BBC".

Mr Howard said anti-Americanism had already affected world co-operation.

"But it is very important to remember it is confined to sectors of Europe – not all Europeans . . . There remains in Britain some of the old jealousies that have always been there. I found the French and German attitude has lingered longer than I thought it might, and longer than is in anyone's interests."

Attacking Europe over its reintroduction of wheat export subsidies, Mr Howard urged the US not to follow suit. "Nothing would help underdeveloped countries more than the removal of trade subsidies and trade barriers.

"If the nations of Europe and North America ... really wanted to help many of the developing countries, then they could do more to help in changing their trade polices than they could through official development assistance."
The folks on The Corner and Polipundit are not impressed with Kerry's self-centered and dour appearance on Meet The Press. I'm glad that they watched him because I couldn't bear it.
Read Iraq the Model's report on his voting experience. I think he understands Henry V.
I walked forward to my station, cast my vote and then headed to the box, where I wanted to stand as long as I could, then I moved to mark my finger with ink, I dipped it deep as if I was poking the eyes of all the world's tyrants.
I put the paper in the box and with it, there were tears that I couldn't hold; I was trembling with joy and I felt like I wanted to hug the box but the supervisor smiled at me and said "brother, would you please move ahead, the people are waiting for their turn".

Yes brothers, proceed and fill the box!
These are stories that will be written on the brightest pages of history.
Ankle Biting Pundits compares the so-called "voter intimidation" in Ohio to what the Iraqis underwent. (Link via Polipundit)
The Washington Post also stokes the drumbeat for a Chief Justice Antonin Scalia. Maybe this is the Post's way of sabotaging such a nomination by making it seem that he is campaigning for it - a sure turnoff for President Bush.
The Washington Post theorizes that Bush is choosing policies that will build the GOP base. And what is so surprising about that? Haven't Democrats been doing the same things for years? But I would challenge the premise that a purpose behind the Social Security reform measures is the desire to build up an ownership society that will vote for Republicans. That might be a long-term effect and I would love it if that were to happen. But in the short run, the GOP is risking a huge hit on this from AARP-influenced voters. It is going to take a long time for other voters to see the benefits from the personal savings accounts. And they might never realize that they averted a major problem by having had Social Security reformed dozens of years earlier.
Here's a success story in Najaf in the Washington Post, no less.
A few hundred yards from the cemetery where Marines engaged in fierce hand-to-hand combat five months ago, Marine Col. Anthony Haslam slid out of his armored Humvee and was immediately surrounded by friendly men and happy children.

"This is a success story," Haslam said about Najaf.

Najaf is a place where Americans appear welcome and the people eager to vote Sunday -- all in a city that had seemed on the verge of unraveling the U.S. effort in Iraq. Last August, four days after Haslam's Marines took responsibility for the city's security, they were at war with the Mahdi Army, a militia loyal to Moqtada Sadr, a young cleric who sought to inflame Shiite Muslims against Americans.

Now Sadr follows the orders of his senior religious leaders and officially, if reluctantly, has tolerated the election. His followers quickly disowned an explosive shell that landed on a polling site here Friday. And they vowed that the Mahdi Army would protect polling places, if asked.

And they seem to like the Americans also. Who'd thunk it?
A few hundred yards from the cemetery where Marines engaged in fierce hand-to-hand combat five months ago, Marine Col. Anthony Haslam slid out of his armored Humvee and was immediately surrounded by friendly men and happy children.

"This is a success story," Haslam said about Najaf.

Najaf is a place where Americans appear welcome and the people eager to vote Sunday -- all in a city that had seemed on the verge of unraveling the U.S. effort in Iraq. Last August, four days after Haslam's Marines took responsibility for the city's security, they were at war with the Mahdi Army, a militia loyal to Moqtada Sadr, a young cleric who sought to inflame Shiite Muslims against Americans.

Now Sadr follows the orders of his senior religious leaders and officially, if reluctantly, has tolerated the election. His followers quickly disowned an explosive shell that landed on a polling site here Friday. And they vowed that the Mahdi Army would protect polling places, if asked.

Yup, these are the soldiers that Ted Kennedy thinks are losing the battle with the insurgents for the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people.
The Corner has lots of links to happy Iraqis who are so excited about having voted. I think it will be a sign of pride to them to have their ink-stained fingers proving that they voted. I think that for these Iraqis, having voted today will be their St. Crispins Day moment. As Shakespeare's Henry V says before the battle of Agincourt,
This day is called the feast of Crispian:
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when the day is named,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say 'To-morrow is Saint Crispian:'
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars.
And say 'These wounds I had on Crispin's day.'
Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember with advantages
What feats he did that day: then shall our names.
Familiar in his mouth as household words
Harry the king, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester,
Be in their flowing cups freshly remember'd.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remember'd;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.
And those that didn't vote today will hold their manhoods (womanhoods? is there such a thing?) cheap.

Everyone is talking about The Finger. Check out Day by Day.
Hmmmm. Whom would you rather watch on the Sunday shows? John Kerry explaining how the President should have listened to his four-point plan to Tim Russert? Or Condi Rice talking about the Iraqi elections while wearing some high heeled, kick a** black leather boots?
George Will is all excited about Bush's reference to the Homestead Act in his Inaugural. Will tells us what a consequential law the Homestead Act was.
Its provisions were as simple as the problem it addressed was stark. The problem was writ large on American maps at that time, which often designated the Great Plains as the Great American Desert. Under the act, fees totaling $18 entitled homesteaders to farm 160 acres that they would own with no other price after five years, or after six months if they paid $1.25 an acre. Rarely has a social program worked so well. Indeed, a few years ago historians voted the Homestead Act, which remained in effect in the contiguous United States until 1976 and in Alaska until 1986, the third-most important legislative achievement in U.S. history, ahead of, among others, the Social Security Act, the GI Bill and the Voting Rights Act, and behind only the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, which was more an executive than a legislative achievement, and the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, which actually failed in its attempt to defuse the sectional crisis.
That's all very nice, however the Homestead Act has been judged by many historians to have been a failure. Most of the land eventually went to speculators and not to the small landowner that reformers desired.
Yet the Homestead Act almost wholly failed to have the results that had been predicted. It did not lead to the settlement of large numbers of farmers on lands which they themselves owned and tilled. Vast land grants to railways, failure to repeal the existing laws that played into the hands of speculators by allowing purchase of government lands, and cynical evasion of the law determined the actual working of the public land system. Between the passage of the Homestead Act in 1862 and 1890, only 372,659 entries were perfected. At most, two millions of persons comprising the families of actual settlers could have benefited from the operation of the Act, during a period when the population of the nation increased by about thirty-two millions, and that of the Western states within which most of the homesteading took place, by more than ten millions.6 Railways alone, for example, sold more land at an average price of five dollars an acre than was conveyed under the Homestead Act. When the mechanical revolution introduced steam-driven tractors and threshing machines to the wheat regions of the Northwest, the pattern of small freehold subsistence farms was in danger of being wiped out.7 The most telling index of this change is the ratio of tenancy. Eighteen per cent of the farms in Nebraska were operated by tenants in 1880, the first year for which records are available; in 1890 the figure had risen to twenty four per cent.8 By 1900 more than thirty-five per cent of all American farmers had become tenants, and the ratio was increasing rapidly.9 Many farms technically listed as cultivated by their owners were so heavily mortgaged that the ostensible owner was hardly his own master.

Eventually, a lot of those little plots were swallowed up by the big farming conglomerates. Sure, many people did get land under the law. Think of the Laura Wilder Little House on the Prairie stories. I often ask my students how many have read those books and most have read at least one. She spelled out the difficulties of the homesteaders and how often they failed. In almost every book Pa was moving on to a new homestead. That wasn't a sign of success. So, George Will needs to do a bit more homework or just enroll in my AP US History class where he'd learn that most events in history have both positive and negative aspects to them and the Homestead Act is no exception.
Mark Steyn points out the weakness of all those Realpolitik diplomats who preferred stability with dictators than instability wiht democracy.
When Amr Moussa, secretary-general of the Arab League, warned that the U.S. invasion of Iraq would ''destabilize'' the entire region, he was right. That's why it was such a great idea.

The ''realpolitik'' types spent so long worshipping at the altar of stability they were unable to see it was a cult for psychos. The geopolitical scene is never stable, it's always dynamic. If the Western world decides in 2005 that it can ''contain'' President Sy Kottik of Wackistan indefinitely, that doesn't mean the relationship between the two parties is set in aspic. Wackistan has a higher birth rate than the West, so after 40 years of ''stability'' there are a lot more Wackistanis and a lot fewer Frenchmen. And Wackistan has immense oil reserves, and President Kottik has used the wealth of those oil reserves to fund radical schools and mosques in hitherto moderate parts of the Muslim world. And cheap air travel and the Internet and ATM machines that take every bank card on the planet and the freelancing of nuclear technology mean that Wackistan's problems are no longer confined to Wackistan. For a few hundred bucks, they can be outside the Empire State Building within seven hours. Nothing stands still. ''Stability'' is a fancy term to dignify laziness and complacency as sophistication.

And Steyn is so right that the Shiites and Kurds have shown themselves to be politically astute and quite willing to sacrifice their own not unreasonable desire for revenge against the Sunnis in favor of the larger goal of establishing a working democracy in IRaq.
When you consider the behavior of the Shia and Kurdish parties, they've been remarkably shrewd, restrained and responsible. They don't want to blow their big rendezvous with history and rejoin the rest of the Middle East in the fetid swamp of stable despotism. The naysayers in the Democratic Party and the U.S. media are so obsessed with Rumsfeld getting this wrong and Condi getting that wrong and Bush getting everything wrong that they've failed to notice just how surefooted both the Kurds and Shiites have been -- which in the end is far more important. The latter, for example, have adopted a moderate secular pitch entirely different from their co-religionist mullahs over the border. In fact, as partisan pols go, they sound a lot less loopy than, say, Barbara Boxer. Even on the Sunni side of the street, there are signs the smarter fellows understand their plans to destroy the election have flopped and it's time to cut themselves into the picture. The IMF noted in November that the Iraqi economy is already outperforming all its Arab neighbors.
I think that those leaders have already demonstrated that they understand the power of the moment they're living through and what the real stakes are.
The London Times reports that Kofi Annan is starting to admit his role in helping to sell Saddam's oil.
THE son of the United Nations secretary-general has admitted he was involved in negotiations to sell millions of barrels of Iraqi oil under the auspices of Saddam Hussein.
Kojo Annan has told a close friend he became involved in negotiations to sell 2m barrels of Iraqi oil to a Moroccan company in 2001. He is understood to be co-operating with UN investigators probing the discredited oil for food programme.

The alleged admission will increase pressure on Kofi Annan, the UN secretary general, who is already facing calls for his resignation over the management of the humanitarian programme.

Of course, I don't think we'll be able to pry Kofi Annan out of there with a crowbar.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Meghan Cox Gurdon's second-grade son has to do a poster project for Black History MOnth. Anyone with children in the public schools has gone through this as February rolls around. She is so exactly right to talk about how such projects force kids to notice racial differences that they really hadn't been aware of before. I well remember my daughters' elementary school and the posters they'd put up every year. It always amused me how lame the group of people were that they were supposed to learn to admire. Almost all of them were sports and entertainment figures. I just don't see why we have to be teaching children in school to admire Michael Jordan. Jackie Robinson was a historical figure, but Jordan? Give me a break. If I were black, I would have found those posters so demeaning and patronizing.

Once, at a parent open house night early in the year when I taught 8th grade, a black mother came up afterwards and asked if I was going to teach black history that year. I wasn't sure what she wanted, but I told her that it would be impossible to teach American history without talking about blacks in our history. But I did not believe in teaching it as a separate subject, but preferred to integrate (forgive the pun) that history into every era of American history. We don't have separate black and white history. She didn't look happy, but didn't say anything else. Her son was a very enthusiastic and informed student. But sure enough, when February rolled around, he wanted to know why I hadn't done anything for Black History Month. I pointed out that we had just spent about 6 weeks on slavery, the events leading up to the Civil War, the War itself and Reconstruction. It seemed to me that we had done plenty of black history that month. He seemed surprised as if it hadn't occurred to him that American history, by its very nature was also black history. He was just so used to those phony canned units that teachers drag out every February and patronizingly assign to students for a few weeks before they go back to whatever else they were doing.

Which brings me to another of my many pet peeves about how schools teach history. History is taught so poorly in the elementary and middle school levels that kids have no idea really of what these black heroes did to deserve admiration since they don't have any understanding of the historical context. They end up with some confused idea that lumps Harriet Tubman, Booker T. Washington, Jackie Robinson, Martin Luther King, Oprah Winfrey, and Michael Jordan into one big group of people that all did poster-worthy things at some time, probably within weeks of each other since they're all up on the wall at the same time. No wonder, that most of my students entered my class with social studies (Gosh, I hate that term - but that's another rant) being one of their least favorite subjects. What a shame that is. History should be one of children's favorite subjects. All those great stories! Instead they spend forever coloring in maps and flags and learning the official languages and exports of countries around the world. They'll sing a few little songs and maybe eat some fake ethnic food. Forget the flags and fake authentic food. Teach them the history!

When I was in sixth grade we had to do reports on Russia, our unit that month. All the kids did little reports and brought in food and colored pictures. I came in and told the story of Rasputin and the repeated efforts his enemies made to kill him. The class was spellbound, if I do say so myself. I think even then, I knew how fun it would be to be a history teacher. It used to grind my innards to hear kids talk about how boring their 6th grade social studies class was. Sixth grade is when they do Europe in North Carolina. My gosh. If you can't get kids' attention with the French Revolution and kings getting their heads chopped off you should lose your teaching license. I remember helping my daughter study for a test for which she had to learn the items that Portugal and Spain exported. I almost fell asleep quizzing her. What teachers come up with such an idea? I don't care what the curriculum calls for. She could have been learning about the brave Portuguese and Spanish guerrillas fighting against Napoleon or the Spanish inquisition or the war to expel the Moors. Instead she learned about the exportation of olive oil. Such is the state of "social studies" in our schools. Heaven help us!
Jonathan Adler explains what the real scandal is in people writing columns and not exposing the money they've received from the sources that they're writing about.
In October 2003, for example, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) chairman William K. Reilly wrote an op-ed, "The EPA's Cost Underruns," celebrating the cost-effectiveness of federal environmental regulation. Reilly claimed Environmental Protection Agency programs have produced a "solid return on our investments and declared environmental protection "one of the two foremost achievements of American public policy in the post-World War II period." Yet while Reilly's byline acknowledged he was EPA administrator from 1989 to 1993, there was no mention that WWF is a substantial recipient of EPA funds — well over $1.5 million in the past ten years. According to WWF's Form 990s filed with the IRS, the group received over $15 million in government funds in both 2002 and 2003....

These are hardly isolated examples. To the contrary, most major environmental organizations are on the federal dole....Yet when these organizations appear in the Washington Post, whether in bylined pieces or reported articles, their federal support is scarcely, if ever, disclosed.

The fact is that many of the policy experts and advocates constantly clamoring for more federal spending and regulation are direct beneficiaries of the government programs that they seek to create. This goes unreported upon in the Post and other publications because it is business as usual in Washington, D.C. Maggie Gallagher's work for HHS would likewise have been a non-story were it not for the well-deserved outrage over Armstrong Williams' decision to accept thousands from the Bush administration to promote "No Child Left Behind" in his work as a public commentator.

Unlike Williams, however, Gallagher was not asked to promote the Bush administration's agenda in her columns or otherwise to spread the word through her punditry and public writings. Rather, she was hired as an expert to do the work of an expert — behind the scenes — drafting documents and preparing presentations for government officials. If her failure to disclose this contract is news, then so is the failure of advocacy groups and other experts to disclose their financial ties with federal agencies when they pen opinion pieces or otherwise hawk their views in the press.

The Gallagher kerfuffle conceals one of the Beltway's tidy little secrets: Hundreds, if not thousands, of policy experts and advocates receive federal grants and contracts. Federal funding of experts, advocacy groups, and other nonprofits is so widespread that it scarcely ever warrants attention. The real scandal is not that a federal agency paid Maggie Gallagher for her expertise, but that federal agencies dole out millions in taxpayer dollars each and every year to activist organizations that turn around and call for Congress to grant these agencies even greater power. This is the real "political payola" in Washington, and it is about time it received some attention.
Remember Captain Ed and his First Mate in your prayers as she hopes to get a pancreas transplant.
Hamas and Fatah seem to have the same maturity level as the Sharks and the Jets. Just deadlier and their dancing isn't as well choreographed.
A political rally by the militant Palestinian group Hamas turned violent Saturday, as supporters of the rival Fatah faction opened fire, sparking a melee that left more than 25 people wounded, a Palestinian official said.

....The Palestinian official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the Hamas supporters chanted victory slogans, angering Fatah supporters in the area.

One of the Fatah supporters opened fire, seriously wounding one Hamas supporters and causing shrapnel wounds to four others, the official said. Some 25 other people were hurt by knives, clubs and beatings in the ensuing melee, the official said.

Bernard Higgins wonders what voting would be like here if it were as dangerous as in Iraq.

What I've been wondering is why a small Sunni turnout should throw the legitimacy of the election into question. First, there is the wonderfully apt analogy that a small turnout of whites in the first election after the end of apartheid in South Africa would not have delegitimized any election there. As Clifford May states at NRO,
Further imagine that in South Africa, the whites who once held power but had lost it, were murdering blacks and threatening them if they dared show up at the polls to vote.

Do you think the major story would be on the failure of the ANC to control the “security situation”?

Do you think there would be proposals to delay elections for a while?

Do you think there would be a debate about whether the elections would be legitimate if blacks were frightened and decided not to vote?

Secondly, there are all the analogies to low voter turnout in our own elections. Or the fact that we had a presidential election during the Civil War when eleven states had seceded. Not only was Lincoln unquestionably the president, but when he died, the decidedly inferior Andrew Johnson succeeded to the presidency without anyone saying that he wasn't legitimate. They might have thought he was a dang fool and a bigot and despised him, but his legitimacy as the next president wasn't questioned.

And finally, why should the fact that some people are terrorized, their lives and that of their families threatened mean that the election itself is illegitimate? Forgive the cliche, but if we think like that and allow murderous thugs to determine what is and isn't considered legitimate, then the terrorists really will have won.
Here's a nice column commemorating the anniversary of Churchill's funeral.
But try an experiment. Take up any of the eight volumes of Martin Gilbert's biography, open it at random and find the words of Winston Churchill. I tried it with the volume from 1901-14. Churchill is calling for social reform: "…whilst our vanguard enjoys all the delights of all the ages, our rearguard struggles out into conditions which are crueller than barbarism." Then I opened Volume IV (1917-22) and found him writing to Clementine: "It was uphill work to make an enthusiastic speech about the United States at a time when so many hard things are said about us over there… All the same there is only one road for us to tread." Finally, I dipped into Volume VI (1939-41). Churchill is woken from his afternoon nap on June 10, 1940 to be told that Italy had entered the war against us. "People who go to Italy to look at ruins won't have to go as far as Naples and Pompeii again," was all he said.

On almost every page, the man says something imaginative, memorable, strong, often funny. His mind is always engaged and his beliefs are always interacting with the historical facts. To adapt his own phrase, he does not "fall below the level of events". His signature is on everything that he does and says and thinks. "Energy and poetry" was how the laconic Attlee summed it up. De Gaulle said: "In the great drama, he was the greatest of them all."

There are not many people that I can think of that you could try that experiment with. Twain maybe. Any other candidates?
Oops from the BBC.
The BBC has apologised for erroneously reporting that U.S.-led and Iraqi forces may be responsible for the deaths of 60 percent of Iraqi civilians killed in conflict over the last six months.
The short little article doesn't say what the true figures are. But the fact that this wouldn't stop even the BBC reporters and make them think that there was something fishy in those numbers betrays their bias. This goes beyond mere innumeracy. Just think for one second. Who has been killing civilians in the last six months in Iraq? It sure hasn't been the Americans, even if you include residents of Fallujah as "civilians," an iffy proposition.
I didn't even notice that I passed my millionth visitor this week. That is most cool. Thank you to all who visit my page whether regularly or just one time. The blogosphere is an amazing thing that some middle age high school teacher can, over the space of three and a half years had her views read that many times. Some of my kids who have their own blogs and are happy to get double digit visits most days are more impressed by my blog credentials than by anything I do in the classroom.
Paul Berkowitz deconstructs how Washington Post writers and columnists deliberately misinterpreted the President's Inaugural Address so that they could better ridicule it.
LOCAL CRITICS HAVE FOUND IN President Bush's second inaugural address an excellent opportunity to remonstrate, revile, and ridicule the president. Only they've had to rewrite the speech to do it.

Mark Goldblatt searches in vain for some evidence that Democrats are trying to meet Bush halfway in a gesture of bipartisan accord.
Now let me see if I've got this straight. Congressional Democrats insist they're ready to work with President Bush as long as he meets them half way. "I hope that in this term, President Bush will fulfill his promise to be a uniter not a divider," House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi says. "A new term is, indeed, a new opportunity to bring America together."

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid concurs: "There are bipartisan opportunities for us; I speak on behalf of 45 Democrats. We are here with our arms open to work with the administration … to accomplish things for this country."

Which explains why House Democrats three weeks ago contested the Ohio electoral vote count -- even though, as they themselves conceded, they had no chance whatsoever to affect the outcome of the election.

Which explains why Senate Democrats two weeks ago forced a delay in the confirmation vote of Alberto Gonzales as Attorney General -- even though, as they themselves conceded, Gonzales was certain to be confirmed.

Which explains why Senate Democrats one week ago also forced a delay in the confirmation vote of Condoleezza Rice as Secretary of State -- even though, as they themselves conceded, Rice was certain to be confirmed.

This is the very definition of obstructionism: To delay a foregone conclusion for the sake of a petty protest.
Oh, yeah. I forgot. Bipartisanship is defined as conservatives doing what liberals would like them to do.
Jeremy Lott reviews Victor Gold's new book, Liberwocky: What Liberals Say and What They Really Mean. This new version reminiscent of Ambrose Bierce's Devil's Dictionary sounds like a hoot. Perhaps it would be a good gift for your conservative Valentine.
Though Gold allows that liberals "can be a load of laughs" in the abstract, it is clear that he is more maddened than amused by the continuing dominance of progressives in the press, the academy, and certain slices of American society. The first entry under C is "Camelot. A mythical liberal era when all men were equal, affluent, and inspired, and women were beautiful, witty and well-groomed, and Republicans knew their place."

....Here's is Gold's definition of gender gap: "Liberal media conundrum first posed by a bored desk editor at the Sacramento Bee, circa 1980, viz. (1) the inability of the Republican Party to get wives to vote like their husbands; (2) the inability of the Democratic Party to get husbands to vote like their wives."

Patrick O'Hannigan thinks that it is time for an intervention for Peggy Noonan.
Lawrence Henry has some interesting ideas about why Massachusetts is the one state that is losing population and what they can do about it. I would add in that the tax rate might have something to do with it. But he is so correct that cities will suffer if the living costs are so exorbitant that those not earning six figure salaries can't afford to live there. You may not want those people at your Cambridge parties, but you want them working at the gas stations and fixing your plumbing.
JOEL GARREAU, AN EDITOR AT THE Washington Post, published Edge City in 1991(Doubleday). To an educated person in the post-war era, it is one of the most profoundly shocking and iconoclastic books of the last 50 years. Edge City, which started as an angry impulse to investigate suburban sprawl, gigantism, and alienation ("I wanted to get somebody indicted," Garreau told me some years ago), developed into a dispassionate chronicle of exactly what most people love to despise: Mall cities. Office parks. Developer's pods. Row houses.

In short, Tyson's Corner, Burlington Mall, Westwood Village, the edge cities that give the book its name. That's where the jobs are, the people are, and the future is.

And that's why Massachusetts doesn't grow.

"There are now 180 edge cities, each of which has more white collar jobs than Memphis," Garreau told me last week. "These urban cores that are brand new, 30 years old or less, are the real bellwethers of what constitutes a genuinely American idea. This is where you find people who are really slogging it out."

Since publishing his book, Garreau has kept track of what he calls "endangered downtowns." All share a common characteristic -- a characteristic both Vennochi and Galvin did manage to mention about Boston. "They're really bad at producing places for their cops and teachers," as Garreau put it. Edge cities, by contrast, operating in a free market environment, are quite adept at creating a diverse economic and cultural mix, essential for growth.

Massachusetts touts its universities and "highly educated" population and job market. But, as Garreau said, "Every one of those high rolling six digit jobs has to be supported by 20 people who make sandwiches, fix Xerox machines, etc. You can't do without those people."
Fred Barnes calls for Bush and the White House to be tougher on the obstructionist Democrats or they will face a situation of the Democrats blocking everything on Bush's agenda.
Democrats misunderstand their situation. Their view is that Republicans have been mean and bruising while they've been too nice and forgiving. That's right. They think former Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle, who was plainly obsessed with obstructing Bush at every turn, was too kindly. The lesson of the 2004 election for Democrats, then, is that they need to play rough. The real lesson, of course, is that blatant obstructionism is a failed strategy. It's what caused Daschle to lose his seat.

The media tolerate or even encourage Democratic rage. But the White House can't afford to. Senate Democrats have enough votes to block major Bush initiatives like Social Security reform and to reject Bush appointees, including Supreme Court nominees. They may be suicidal, but they could undermine the president's entire second term agenda. At his news conference last week, Bush reacted calmly to their vitriolic attacks, suggesting only a few Democrats are involved. Stronger countermeasures will be needed, including an unequivocal White House response to obstructionism, curbs on filibusters, and a clear delineation of what's permissible and what's out of bounds in dissent on Iraq. Too much is at stake to wait for another Democratic defeat in 2006.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Joseph Knippenberg is lobbying for Michael McConnell for Chief Justice. From what I've heard, that would be a great nomination and one likely to go smoothly through the Senate.
The Times of London spoofs Hillary Clinton's move to the right.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
September 15, 2005

At a public ceremony near Waco, Texas, Senator Clinton was received yesterday into full communion with the Church of Jesus Christ of the Repenting Transgressors.

As her sponsors, the Rev Jerry Falwell and the Rev Pat Robertson looked on lovingly, the New York senator was fully immersed in the swirling waters of the Brazos River. A gospel choir sang a collection of spiritual hymns, including, Lo, the Yankee Queen In Bright Array, Rises and It Takes a Village to Smite the Evil.

Mr Falwell welcomed Mrs Clinton, dressed in a white toga, as a reformed sister in the family of former sinners.

“Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Voter,” he said. “The prodigal daughter has come home to the Lord! The sheep that was lost is found.”

Mrs Clinton has recently been reaching out beyond the Democratic Party’s core supporters on religious values. At a news conference after the baptismal ceremony, Mrs Clinton announced that she is to begin hosting a television show next month on Mr Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network. Cookies for Christ will feature her favourite housewife recipes for spiritually appropriate confectionery, including Rock Cakes of Ages and Apocalypse Apple Fritters.

Read the rest. It's worthy of Scrappleface. (Link via Political Man)

Speaking of Scrappleface, here's a great spoof of Kennedy's speech. I don't know how Scott Ott does it day after day.
Kennedy: U.S. Troops Restrict Al Qaeda Civil Rights
by Scott Ott

(2005-01-28) -- The U.S. occupation force in Iraq is placing unconstitutional restrictions on the free speech rights of Al Qaeda and former members of Saddam Hussein's Ba'ath party, according to Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-MA, who today introduced a resolution expressing "solidarity with our repressed brethren in the Iraq insurgency."

"Just as in our country, flag burning and pornography distribution are the most sacred of forms of protected speech, so in Iraq legitimate car-bombings and beheadings must be protected as political expression," said Mr. Kennedy. "The Bush administration is clearly trying to deny these Iraqis, and their foreign guests, their basic civil rights. This is the most insidious brand of cultural and religious discrimination."

The Senator said he's hopeful that "after the Iraqi people exercise civil disobedience by boycotting this week's national election sham, U.S. forces will immediately pull out so that this sovereign nation can restore the free marketplace of ideas in political discourse -- no matter how incendiary the ideas, no matter how sharp the discourse."

In a direct address to Iraqi insurgents, the Massachusetts Senator added, "Speak truth to power, my brothers."

Tom Heard did me a favor by introducing me to two more conservative State Department employee blogs. I've been enjoying The Diplomad for several weeks since I found it. And now I can add in The Daily Demarche and The New Sisyphus. It does indeed seem that there are at least a few underground Republicans in the State Department.
How this must bite. A pro-Republican group has arranged for billboards to go up in Hollywood thanking them for their help in reelecting Bush. It features pictures of Michael Moore, Barbra Streisand, Martin Sheen, Sean Penn, and the rest of the gang who did their utmost to defeat Bush.
Robin Givhan unloads on Dick Cheney for what he wore to the Auschwitz ceremony.
Cheney stood out in a sea of black-coated world leaders because he was wearing an olive drab parka with a fur-trimmed hood. It is embroidered with his name. It reminded one of the way in which children's clothes are inscribed with their names before they are sent away to camp. And indeed, the vice president looked like an awkward boy amid the well-dressed adults.

Like other attendees, the vice president was wearing a hat. But it was not a fedora or a Stetson or a fur hat or any kind of hat that one might wear to a memorial service as the representative of one's country. Instead, it was a knit ski cap, embroidered with the words "Staff 2001." It was the kind of hat a conventioneer might find in a goodie bag.

It is also worth mentioning that Cheney was wearing hiking boots -- thick, brown, lace-up ones. Did he think he was going to have to hike the 44 miles from Krakow -- where he had made remarks earlier in the day -- to Auschwitz?

James Taranto has the best response.
These guys are writing about what "the fashion-conscious" think of an Auschwitz event, and they think Cheney is insufficiently solemn?

Robin Givhan has a tradition of bashing the Bush family so it's no surprise to see her going after Dick Cheney's jacket. Here she is sniffing at the Bush girls showing up in Vogue Magazine. Even Washingtonian Magazine, not a conservative venue, found Givhan's snobbery unnecessary.
In deconstructing the Vogue package on the Bush girls, Givhan displays her array of eviscerating talents. She describes their strapless ball gowns (“styles that a designer would keep on hand in the showroom but wouldn’t bother to put on a runway”); she scathingly reviews various high-fashion photographers; she jabs at Reed’s quoting Bush buddies “who say such nice things about them that readers might be led to believe these young women have never burped publicly, let alone had a grumpy day.”

Givhan can needle, but the winners in Vogue’s semijournalistic enterprise are the Bushes and the magazine. The First Family gets a predictably friendly story; Vogue gets to promote the story and benefit from the ensuing chatter.

And you might remember Robin Givhan's inane comments when she noted that Bush kissed Condi Rice and Margaret Spellings on the cheek when he nominated them for cabinet posts, but never kissed Rumsfeld or Powell. Horrors! But not as depressing to Givhan as the blah clothes that Republicans wore to their convention. I realize that one should not look for intellectual insights from the fashion editor, but her snarky comments seem unnecessarily snide and biting.
Jim Miller has some more thoughts on the silly Guardian story about George Bush's ancestors. He prints information from his reader, Doug Sendeth, about the mathematical probability of everyone being related to a Most Common Ancestor. This site offers a mathematical proof that everyone is descended from the Egyptian royal family, Confucius, or Charlemagne. I don't understand all the math, but it makes sense. And shows how ridiculous these elongated genealogical lineages are. Here is one tracing Robert E. Lee back to King David of Israel.
Ankle-Biting Pundits goes through the roll call of possible 2008 candidates and thinks the one who has the most chance of beating Hillary. I think he's right that the media would continue their McCain swoon. Hillary has never really been a real favorite of the press and they can't seem to get enough of John McCain. What a depressing choice. I'd hold my nose and vote for him and then pray that he didn't show any more "growth" in office than he's already shown.
Some knuckleheads in the school administration in Lincoln, Rhode Island, have determined to get rid of the district Spelling Bee. It has dawned on them that in a Bee, someone wins and some children lose. Horrors. That does nothing for self esteem! They all have to be winners, don't they?

What is worse is that they are blaming their soft-heartedness (soft-headedness) on No Child Left Behind. According to their convoluted logic, NCLB concerns all children succeeding and since some would lose in the Bee, the Bee has got to go. It must be that evil NCLB's fault.
The administrators decided to eliminate the spelling bee, because they feel it runs afoul of the mandates of the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

"No Child Left Behind says all kids must reach high standards," Newman said. "It’s our responsibility to find as many ways as possible to accomplish this."

The administrators agreed, Newman said, that a spelling bee doesn’t meet the criteria of all children reaching high standards -- because there can only be one winner, leaving all other students behind.

"It’s about one kid winning, several making it to the top and leaving all others behind. That’s contrary to No Child Left Behind," Newman said.

A spelling bee, she continued, is about "some kids being winners, some kids being losers."

As a result, the spelling bee "sends a message that this isn’t an all-kids movement," Newman said.

Furthermore, professional organizations now frown on competition at the elementary school level and are urging participation in activities that avoid winners, Newman said. That’s why there are no sports teams at the elementary level, she said as an example.

The emphasis today, she said, is on building self-esteem in all students.
This is so very lame. Children thrive on competition. Apparently, these bozos are incapable of teaching the message that the point is not whether you win, but rather are you willing to put forth the effort and try your best. Better to reach for the golden ring and fail than to never reach at all. How will kids ever learn to cope with losing if they are never allowed to lose and discover that the world goes on revolving even if they get knocked out in the second round? I haven't taught elementary school, but I spent a lot of years in middle school and, in my experience, kids thrived on competition. They would make activities into games and competitions even if there was no official score. They like games. They like winning and they can cope with losing. How many of you have seen sports leagues get rid of scoring for soccer matches because of all that nasty competition and then seen the kids keeping score on their own. They know who wins and who loses and they can live with it. It's only the adults who are seemingly traumatized by the sight of Junior messing up. And if a kid is upset to lose, he or she has to learn that that is what life is about. No more Soft America for them! That is exactly what Michael Barone is talking about in his book, Hard America, Soft America: Competition vs. Coddling and the Battle for the Nation's Future . We're coddling our kids and weakening them in the process.

My stupid public school district, Wake County in North Carolina, got rid of spelling bees at both the elementary and middle school level years ago because the supervisor of Language Arts studies (it's no longer simply English) decided that spelling is really an old-fashioned skill that we didn't need to stress in the age of spell-checkers. Besides, he couldn't stand to see the kids cry when they lost. Of course, they didn't get rid of sports activities at the same time. That type of competition was okay.

And it is doubly lame to blame it all on NCLB. There is nothing in NCLB that condemns individual success. Perhaps all students would improve if they all had to study and prepare for the Spelling Bee. Don't blame your stupid decisions on that catch-all for blame for everything in education these days, No Child Left Behind.
Wow, here at last an unquenchable fire.
Byproducts from the massive operation resulted in a dung pile measuring 100 feet long, 30 feet high and 50 feet wide that began burning about two months ago and continues to smolder despite Herculean attempts to douse it.

While city folks might have trouble imagining a dung pile of such proportions, they are common sites in rural states.

In July, crews fighting a blaze in a three-acre manure lagoon at a dairy farm in Washington smothered the flames with more of the same -- a blanket of wet cow manure.

Yum. Just what you wanted to read about at lunch time.
Chris at A Large Regular has a petition for the obvious replacement for Michael Powell at the FCC - James Lileks.

Speaking of Lileks, he is great today on the "Damning But."
So there’s an election in Iraq soon, I understand. I haven’t been writing about this here because I’m just taking the long, long view, and haven’t the time or inclination to argue with people who think “No WMD!” is the argument equivalent of a spreading a full house on the green felt table. It may seem so, but unfortunately we’re playing chess. However the election goes will be one thing; how it’s reported is another. The thing to watch is the position of the Damning But, the old DB. The DB will probably bob up in the first or second paragraphs of most dispatches. “The election went as planned in 95 percent of the country, but violence marred polling in the disputed Sunny D Triangle, where insurgents opposed to Tropicana Juice fired automatic weapons into an juice concentrate factory.” That’s one spin. “The election, long anticipated as a flashpoint for insurgent activity, went off with few delays. Despite sporadic gunfire marred the overall mood of success in several provinces, observers said that the process was ‘smooth as a Sade groove,’ adding that they were annoyed Sade had simply faded away instead of letting her career end with a tasteful layout in Playboy.” See? No DB there. We’ll see.
Once you've processed that, read Lileks on Diet Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper. You will laugh out loud.
Let's start fidgeting!
My daughter blogs about a poorly thought out law being proposed in Texas to close charter schools if they have poor test scores for two years in a row. I agree with my husband that we can start shutting down underperforming charter schools when we start shutting down public schools that are also failing. Alas, the Texas law says nothing about such a policy.
Patrick Ruffini has a great post about the noble Christine Todd Whitman. She's making all the regular talk shows to publicize her book trashing the Republican Party and urging Bush to move to the right. (er...I mean, to the left) She is upset that Bush appealed to the right in his reelection bid. Ruffini has gone through the numbers to contrast Whitman's reelection as governor and Bush's reelection as president. There is a lot there that I either hadn't known or didn't remember. Whitman is not the great popular New Jersey politician who knows how to get votes. In fact she ranks down there with McGreevey in unpopularity in her very blue state. Former Gov. Thomas H.
Kean handily topped the field as "best governor of New Jersey" in a statewide poll of registered voters, which also turned up a suprising response for worst governor _ a tie between James E. McGreevey and his predecessor, Christine Todd Whitman.
Remember when she was always being touted as a possible vice presidential candidate since she would supposedly bring in New Jersey and appeal to women. She couldn't even win her home state. Why don't her interviewers ask her about that poll?(Link via Lorie Byrd)
Charles Krauthammer questions the wisdom of the Democrats voting against Rice and Teddy Kennedy coming out so heavily against the war in Iraq right at the moment when Iraqis prepare to risk their lives to vote.
The other political calculation that Democrats have to make -- one that plagued them throughout the election campaign -- is how vigorously to oppose the Iraq War. We are at a critical point in the Iraq enterprise, the most hopeful point since the fall of Baghdad. It's not just the advent of the first free elections in Iraqi history, but the beginning of a real politics with campaigning, coalition building, debate, the construction of political platforms -- all of the rudiments of a representative political system.

It seems particularly inopportune for Sen. Edward Kennedy, for example, to use this moment to call the Iraq policy a catastrophe and a hopeless quagmire. It is possible that history will, in time, prove him right. But how does he know?

To assert with such certainty that the war is lost, especially at such a hopeful time, seems not only to be betting against our side. It presents the political dilemma that faces all war dissidents -- particularly those whose main argument is unwinnability: It tells the brave and committed soldiers on the front line they are fighting in vain.

Regardless of the sincerity of Kennedy's assertion, it carries heavy political risk. Kennedy, however, is long past aspirations for higher political office. The list of 13 Senators who opposed Rice includes some thinking seriously of running for the presidency in 2008. Most prominent of these are Evan Bayh and John Kerry. And Barbara Boxer has clearly used the Rice hearings to raise her national political profile. By using Rice to vigorously oppose the war, they all vie for the 2008 Howard Dean role -- albeit played calm and composed -- of unequivocal antiwar candidate and favorite of the party's activist left.
Of course, challenging the intelligence of Teddy Kennedy is usually a winning move. The man is a buffoon and the fact that he is now arguably the most prominent Democratic spokesman says much about the state of that party. Doesn't he have any staffers who could tell him that we are not battling with the insurgents for the "hearts and minds" of the Iraqi people. Fox highlighted that quote yesterday, but the major media seems to have carefully elided that quote from their coverage of his speech. The Washington Post and Los Angeles Times just don't seem to have room for his silly assertion that the insurgents are doing anything but making war on the Iraqi people by killing them. More Iraqis get killed every time there is a bomb blast than Americans. These insurgents aren't making any efforts to win those hearts and minds; they're simply using terror to try to assert their control over the country. And these are the murderers that Kennedy wants to turn control over the country to. Didn't we hold an election that was based mostly on this issue? None of the Democratic candidates pushing Kennedy's position made it far at all in the primaries. Didn't Kennedy get the memo?
Terry Eastland is not impressed with Hillary's feint to the right about abortion. He reminds us that there used to be pro-life Democrats but now they're becoming few and far between.
In the last Senate, Democrats routinely resorted to filibusters to block judicial nominees they regarded as opposed to Roe. And in John Kerry the party offered a presidential candidate who refused to talk about abortion in terms other than the narrowly legal ones of Roe, and who vowed to name only judges who would support Roe.

Now, in the wake of an election in which the Democrats lost badly, Democrats for Life aren't the only Democrats who understand that the party's position on Roe helps explain the party's ebbing fortune since the '70s, when it still held large majorities in both houses. Consider that in 1977 to 1978, 125 of 292 House Democrats were pro-life, while in the last Congress only 28 of 203 House Democrats were. "There are a number of districts," says Kristen Day, the group's executive director, "that could be won by a pro-life Democrat" but which are held by Republicans "because of the pro-life issue."

I'll be impressed with Clinton's conversion when she convinces the Democratic Party to welcome pro-life judicial nominees and not make that a litmus test for confirmation.
Note how differently this episode of a Democratic staffer reading the computer files of Republican congressmen was treated compared to what happened when a GOP staffer read Democratic memos.
A member of the House International Relations Committee Democratic staff learned in January 1995 that he could view automated back-up copies of Republican documents on the committee's shared computer file server.

That staff member warned some of his Democratic colleagues of the vulnerability but, unlike Miranda, did not tell the opposing party or congressional information technology staff about it. The Democratic staffer continued to read and distribute Republicans' documents for almost a year.

The unauthorized access was discovered when a staffer faxed copies of a personal document being prepared for then committee Chairman Benjamin Gilman (R-N.Y.) to the State Department. Then Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott telephoned Gilman to discuss the content of the document, which Gilman had not yet received from his staff.

Gilman responded by writing a letter to then House International Relations Committee ranking member, Rep. Lee Hamilton (D-Ind.). Gilman noted the "collegial relationship" between the two. He reasoned that the unauthorized document reading was "inconsistent with that collegial spirit."

Gilman then informed Hamilton that he had ordered computer administrators to eliminate the vulnerability that had allowed the unauthorized viewing of Republican documents and to provide the same protection for all Democrats sharing the same computer network. Gilman demanded no criminal probe of the Democrats and no resignations from their staff.

According to multiple sources, Hamilton replied to Gilman that the incident was the fault of the systems administrator who allowed open access to the documents on the shared network.

Hamilton is said to have asserted that the Democratic staff had not violated any ethics rules or laws and, therefore, should not be disciplined. Hamilton reportedly added that he did not want to harm the careers of his staff members.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Lorie Byrd wonders why Meet the Press would schedule a full show on interviewing Kerry on January 30. As Lorie wonders, isn't something else going on that day?
Hmm. It just seems like there was something going on that day. Why does that date seem significant to me? Must not be anything too important going on that day or you would think that Meet The Press would not be spending an entire hour on the discussion of a failed Presidential bid.
Scott Burgess points to this story in The Guardian which revels in the faint connection that some genealogist has apparently discovered between Bush and an Irish warlord known as Strongbow, the Earl of Clare. The ultra-liberal Guardian would like to find some innate quality of a fierce warlord that they can trace from Strongbow to Bush.
The US president's now apparent ancestor, Richard de Clare, Earl of Pembroke - known as Strongbow for his arrow skills - is remembered as a desperate, land-grabbing warlord whose calamitous foreign adventure led to the suffering of generations. Shunned by Henry II, he offered his services as a mercenary in the 12th-century invasion of Wexford in exchange for power and land. When he eventually died of a festering ulcer in his foot, his enemies said it was the revenge of Irish saints whose shrines he had violated.

As the Guardian coyly remarks,
The jury is out on whether Strongbow had a "conquering" gene that drove him to invade.
Oh, yeah. That famous "conquering gene" that all geneticists have researched and now recognize.

What the Guardian is missing, perhaps due to their lack of historical knowledge, are the truly remarkable people that this genealogist reveals are on Bush's family tree.

The first is William Marshal, one of the greatest and most respected nobles of medieval England.
On the death of John, October 19,1216, William Marshal was chosen by his peers in England as regent for the nine year old Henry III. Henry was knighted and then crowned under the seal of the Earl of Pembroke. William Marshal was the main force and impetus for the defeat of Philip II of France, even leading the attack to relieve Lincoln castle in May 1217 though he was seventy years old. On September 11, 1217, Marshal negotiated the Treaty of Lambeth that ended the war. By his wise treatment of those English barons who had supported Philip II against King John, Marshal ensured the restoration of peace and order in England. This undefeated knight had become a great statesman in the last years of his life. William Marshal died May 14, 1219 at Caversham and was buried as a Knight Templar in the Temple Church in London.

The qualities that Marshal was known for was his honor and loyalty. Even though King John had turned against Marshal and confiscated his land, Marshal kept his oath of loyalty to the King and did not join the barons' rebellion against the King.
It is during King John's reign that the character of William Marshal is clearly revealed. John's character has been drawn by countless historians, and none have been able to erase the ineptitude that King John displayed when dealing with his English barons. Whatever his motives were, John inevitably alienated his greatest barons despite the fact that he needed their support and loyalty to rule England. William Marshal was a powerful, respected, wise and loyal knight and baron who had already served two Angevin kings. King John, however, accused Marshal of being a traitor, took all of Marshal's English and Welsh castles, took Marshal's two older sons as hostages, tried to take Marshal's lands in Leinster, and even tried to get his own household knights to challenge Marshal to trial by combat. Despite all of this, William Marshal remained loyal to his feudal lord. He did not rebel when John took his castles; he gave up his two sons as hostages; he supported John against the Papal Interdict; and he supported John in the baronial rebellion. Of all the bonds of feudalism, the greatest and the most important bond was the one of fealty, of loyalty to one's lord. To break this bond and oath was treason, and this was the greatest of crimes. William Marshal was the epitome of knighthood and chivalry. He did not simply espouse it. Marshal's entire life was governed by his oaths of fealty and by his own innate sense of honour. If Marshal had taken his lands, castles, and knights to the side of the rebellion, King John would have lost his crown and perhaps his life.
Now, while England might not have missed much in losing King John, they would have undergone yet another terrible civil war such as torn apart the country before Henry II's reign. Instead of rebelling, Marshal remained loyal to the King and helped to negotiate the Magna Carta. Perhaps the trait that many have noted in Bush - his loyalty to those who have been loyal to him is the true genetic inheritance from William Marshal. And isn't it remarkable that this supposed ancestor of the Bushes would be a key contributor to what is regarded as a foundational document on the road to democracy. Could there have been a "liberty gene" that Bush inherited from William Marshal? As the Guardian would say, the jury is still out.

And the we find out that Bush is also somehow related to Anne Hutchinson, the woman who is now featured in all history books as the first feminist in American history and the fiery spokeswoman for religious freedom. Here is what PBS for Kids says about Hutchinson.
Anne Hutchinson stood trial alone, with no lawyer to defend her. She faced a panel of 49 powerful and well-educated men. She was accused of sedition, or trying to overthrow the government. And she faced banishment if convicted.

Hutchinson's "crime" was expressing religious beliefs that were different from the colony's rulers. In the year 1637, in Massachusetts Bay Colony, that was against the law--especially for a woman.

Hutchinson, a Puritan, came to America in search of a place where she could worship freely. But when she arrived, she found the Bay Colony's religious rules very intolerant. The ideas she brought with her from England quickly landed her in trouble.

Hutchinson believed that people could communicate directly with God--without the help of ministers or the Bible. This was in direct contradiction with the established religion. Local ministers taught that people could only find God by following the teachings of the Bible. And that only they could interpret the Bible correctly. At meetings she held in her Boston home, Hutchinson criticized the teachings of the colony's ministers.

In Massachusetts Bay, as was the custom at the time, all ministers were men. The Church controlled the political power. There was no Constitution or Bill of Rights. Only those who belonged to "approved" churches could vote. Magistrates, or government officials, used the Bible as their legal textbook. And people who broke the law could be punished severely--jailed, whipped, or even executed. Many considered Hutchinson's teachings illegal.

Every history textbook features Anne Hutchinson since it is, of course, de rigueur to feature any woman who did anything notable in history. And there just aren't all that many in colonial America. What is often left out is the exact theology of Hutchinson. She was an antinomian who believed that good works were not necessary for salvation since salvation was God's gift and could not be earned. Thus, the sermons she objected to were the one exhorting the faithful to a life of good works. That has never struck me as a theology that really appeals to modern students. My kids agree but they love the story of her standing up in trial to her Puritan interrogators while being nine months pregnant. She was a woman of strong faith and deep courage.

So, could Bush have inherited his deep religious convictions and his stubborn resistance to that which he believes is wrong from this famous ancestress? I'm sure the jury is still out on whether or not there is a gene for faith and courage.

If we're going to play games trying to analyze Bush through the prism of his famous forebears, by all means let us have a complete analysis.