Saturday, March 12, 2005

Miscellanea - I Learn A Lesson Edition

Perhaps I should have read this entry from Punditish before I put together the previous post...ah, well, live and learn...

Advantage Hillary? So says this poll...and this one (at least when the opponent is Condi)...

Speaking of Condi and Punditish (and who isn't?), this article is cause for some good analysis here and here...

Wonderfully funny and astute reading from Victor Davis Hanson...

I think most of us knew this one was coming. Certainly Rusty Shackleford did...

Oh, and thanks a lot, Baldilocks! Like I didn't spend enough time on the Internet...

My Pledge To You

It has come to my attention that some bloggers are less than scrupulous. These unnamed others, in a blatant attempt at increasing their hits, will, for example, insert a meaningless phrase like celebrity sex tapes. Perhaps they will, apropos of nothing, mention the contents of Paris Hilton's address book. They might even hint that the Star Wars III trailer is at their site, when of course nothing could be further from the truth. Of course, you won't find movie trailers here, not even the trailers for Batman Begins or Superman Returns. And I wouldn't think of suggesting you could find pictures of Lindsay Lohan here.

I don't play that; no sir, not me. This is my pledge to you, loyal Decision '08 readers. Here you'll find nothing but hardhitting analysis and the latest political news, and never celebrity-driven garbage like the Michael Jackson or Robert Blake trials. Never, ever, ever, ever - and that's a promise.

On A Personal Note...

...what a great Saturday this has been. First, this morning, I score sweet seats (6th row, lower deck, about seven o'clock) for U2 on October 29 at Houston's Toyota Center (woo-hoo!), then my Texas Tech Red Raiders knock off #17 Oklahoma to make it to tomorrow's Big 12 Championship game (to face the winner of Oklahoma State-Kansas, currently slugging it out as I'm posting). Let the madness begin...

UPDATE 5:45 pm central: ...and it's Oklahoma State. We'll have our hands full tomorrow...

Miscellanea: Special Lebanon Edition

All kinds of good Lebanon links from Publius Pundit, including the welcome news that the opposition is planning a huge rally for Monday...

John Hawkins reminds us that the democracy movement is not a happy accident (hat tip to Arthur Chrenkoff)...

Here's a really good looking site called For Lebanon...

The Belgravia Dispatch reports the latest victim of the 'Hey, Maybe Bush Was Right' meme - Le Monde!...

A UN envoy is reporting what would be very good news indeed, if true: a timetable for a complete withdrawal by Syria...

Lebanon, Jeffrey Sachs, An Old Story, and a New Doctrine

Events in Lebanon are emotionally draining right now - there is a see-saw effect between the prospect of a Lebanon free to determine its own destiny and one that will be dominated by Syria for the foreseeable future. Remarkably, events there have begun to overshadow Iraq, despite the large number of our troops who still face danger. All but the diehard Bush-haters have largely conceded that the goal of a democratic Iraq is quite near to accomlishment - the appalling continuation of death and destruction is akin to the thrashing about of a cornered bear who has just been fatally shot.

The flexing of Hizbullah's muscles this last week can be seen in the same light by optimists. Michael Young of Lebanon's Daily Star, a large-circulation English language paper, is a clear member of the optimist camp. In an insightful analysis entitled 'Must Lebanon Pay for Hizbullah's Pride?', he asserts:
Hizbullah has today, quite voluntarily and in contrast with its policies throughout the 1990s, placed itself bluntly against the Lebanese consensus on Syria...

...Not only is there no desire in Lebanon, even among many in the Shiite community, to bear the potentially devastating consequences of continued conflict with Israel; there is also no consensus to continue providing Hizbullah with the cover it needs to pursue a regional agenda that might harm broader Lebanese interests.
Ahh, the old story, then; you can't view events in the Middle East, it seems, through any reference frame that doesn't involve Israel. One is hesitant to throw around the term anti-semitic lightly, but the real story behind the story in Lebanon is the clash between those who would say enough to the endless obsession over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and those who would continue to wage the war as Syrian proxies. Make no mistake; with Saddam out of the picture, it is Syria that is the foremost obstacle to a peaceful Middle East. Caroline Glick, deputy managing editor of the Jerusalem Post, paints a pretty depressing picture of the real state of affairs in a call to action by the Bush administration (hat tip to Betsy's Page).

I have a proposal that I think would please Glick and the pro-democracy elements in the Middle East. Before I unveil it, I want to reveal the proposal's bullet-proof wrapper, the part that would make it difficult to oppose on liberal or 'progressive' grounds. The proposal would be packaged as a response to Jeffrey Sachs' call to end poverty as we know it. I have written previously of my skepticism to Sachs' assertion that $150 billion annually could end severe poverty worldwide, arguing instead that the best help to the less fortunate is a continued call for democracy and transparency. This proposal would be designed to cover both bases. There is another another layer of protection, but first the proposal.

Karen Hughes is returning to Washington as the Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, and the timing could not be more fortuotous - her genious at communications is just what this proposal needs to fly. Put her in charge working the allies, with the goal of announcing in the 2006 State of the Union a new Bush Initiative: The Democracy Fund.

The Democracy Fund would be administered by the United States; it would be a discrete sum of money dedicated to foreign aid (say, $30 billion initially), with the following provisos:
  • The aid would be open to any nation deemed eligible either through extreme poverty or lack of transparency in government
  • The determination of eligibility would be made by the new bicameral Democracy Fund Committee, to be co-chaired by the Senate and House minority leaders (more on this in a minute)
  • The amount of funds received, if any, would be determined by the committee
  • The eligibility of nations would require two-thirds confirmation in both houses, and would be subject to presidential veto; however, the amount of funds to each recipient could not be altered by Congress or the President
  • To be eligible, a country must show substantial progress towards transparency in government and economic affairs as determined by the Committee (this would be the trickiest part, setting the parameters and ensuring they are met - I'm a big picture guy; I'll leave the details to the wonks)
  • The aid would not be distributed in lump sums, but rather in targeted investments in infrastructure, job training, institution building, education, and health
  • Under no circumstances would any funds be provided for military use
  • The ennabling legislation would expire annually; thus, each Congress would have to confirm or deny the wisdom of pursuing democracy overseas in a substantive manner
  • Excess or unrewarded funds would be pledged to the fight against AIDS (or to reduce the deficit, or...)
The final bit of political theater is designed to win bipartisan support; in addition to the leadership role of the minority party, each party would nominate ten committee members. The opposite party would then vote 5 of those ten onto the committee. With the co-chairs both belonging to the opposition, 7 of 12 committe members would always be from the minority party.

The proposal addresses many real problems in a politically astute way: it encourages economic and politic reform in troubled areas; it provides real aid to the impoverished; it would engage the opposition and improve bipartisanship; and it would send a clear signal of our foreign policy priorities. Clearly, perceptions are changing: of America, of the possibility of real change in the Middle East, of the wisdom of the 'neo-con' agenda - we must strike while the iron is hot. Our place in history waits in the balance.

Miscellanea: Good News for the Virginia GOP Edition

Our friend John Behan at Commonwealth Conservative has the analysis on some great poll numbers...

Captain Ed asks: Why spend $2 million bribing someone to hide something that doesn't exist?...

Whatever results from this can only be good, judging from her previous work...

The Moderate Voice pens a love letter to Rather's replacement...

Beautiful Atrocities suggests some more appropriate targets for Osama's kidnapping scheme...

Speaking of Osama, this is just plain silly...and funny...

Friday, March 11, 2005

Could $150 Billion Per Annum End Global Poverty?

Daniel Drezner says he's 'slightly appalled' that there hasn't been more buzz about a proposal by Jeffrey Sachs, the director of Columbia's Earth Institute, to 'end' severe poverty, globally, with $150 billion in annual aid. I haven't read the details in depth, but I must say I'm dubious.

Direct payments without strings are a subsidy of failure. The misery of the truly poor is heartbreaking, but sentimentality and noble purposes can't mask the stench of failure and corruption surrounding many of the world's least prosperous nations. One shouldn't have to die because of accidentally being born in the wrong country, and there is a definite place in a civilized society for humanitarian aid. No nation should turn its back on starving children, but a rising tide lifts all boats, and it's no accident that the most industrialized nations are the richest. Capitalism and democracy are the only lasting answers to the ailments of Africa and Latin America.

�Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish; and you have fed him for a lifetime." So goes the old saying, and I think it's applicable here. Yes, there is much we can and should do, like fully funding President Bush's bold commitment to combat AIDS in Africa, and working to ensure that extreme poverty doesn't preclude treatment with the appropriate drugs. Private donors, too, can work wonders; just look at the response to the tsunami's victims. We can't be cold-hearted, but we can't be empty-headed, either. We are blessed; the best way to share the blessing is to promote the market. If only those who protest globalization and outsourcing understood global economics and such concepts as Purchasing Power Parity and the maximizing benefits of allowing goods to be produced in areas that hold competitive advantages, such as lower wages, without interference, the effect on global poverty would far exceed $150 billion per year.

I think it is incumbent upon the U.S. and other industrialized nations to aid the less fortunate among us. The best help we can give them is to continue to support freedom and transparency in word and deed.

UPDATE 8:50 pm central: I don't want to sound too cynical; I'm not saying Sach's proposals are without merit, I just prefer to see the private sector do as much heavy lifting as possible. In that spirit, here's a link to a page on the 'End Global Poverty' website that has all sorts of good links for the philanthropically inclined.

Hands Off the Blogs, Say Lawmakers

CNN has the story here...fourteen lawmakers and a group of bloggers and online activists both presented letters to the FEC to ask that blogs remain unregulated...the FEC is scheduled to revisit the rules for political activity on the Internet at the end of this month. I'll feel better when I see the revisions.

Speaking of blogs, Mystery Pollster has the same reaction I did to the recent Gallup Poll. Rather than revealing blogs as a fringe phenomenon, the survey reveals over 20 million regular readers! (hat tip to kausfiles)...

Congrats to my Red Raiders on their victory in the second round of the Big 12 Tourney...the Madness has begun!...

Quick Shots: Police Blotter Edition

Quick, somebody buy the movie rights! (Too late, I bet)...

This story really disgusts me...pure greed in action...but then again, maybe there's plenty of targets to go around...

Great News! - Nah, Just Kidding...

From today's NY Times:

"In his time at The Times," Mr. Keller and Ms. Collins said in a note to the staff, "Frank Rich has repeatedly set milestones in the world of critical journalism. As a theater critic, he took his assignment beyond play-reviewing to become a ferocious and influential champion of what is good and original in the art form. As an Op-Ed columnist he pioneered a longer form of essay, which he performed while simultaneously writing in even greater depth for the magazine. "At Arts & Leisure he developed his own brand of social criticism, in a column that combined intensive reporting, immersion in the popular culture and a unique gift for seeing connections between culture and public life."

Yes, Rich has a unique gift (actually, one he shares with Maureen Dowd) - he can take any conceivable play, film, tv show, or event, and turn it into a denunciation of the the Bush administration and the stupid red state hicks who support it. A true renaissance man (did you realize before you read the above that he had pioneered that longer form of writing known as - I hope I get this right - the 'essay'?), Rich can write reviews, op-eds, and magazine articles that all make essentially the same point over and over.

Mr. Rich's column will be essay length, about twice the wordage of a typical Op-Ed column. It will "continue to mine the fertile field of popular culture, but with Op-Ed's greater license" for opinion writing, The Times said. In addition to his column, the expanded opinion pages will now include two other regular columnists each Sunday, as well as a guest columnist and the Public Editor column, moving from Page 2 of the Week in Review.

'...with Op-Ed's greater license for opinion writing' - please. Rich's columns have been nothing but Krugman Lite or Industrial-Strength Dowd for as long as I can remember.

Mr. Keller and Ms. Collins said Mr. Rich would have offices in both the Op-Ed department and the arts section, where he will be the senior adviser to the culture editor. As he has for the last two years, they said, he will monitor trends in the cultural worlds and recruit and develop talent. Mr. Rich's final Arts & Leisure column will appear on March 27. His Op-Ed column will begin on April 10.

So, look what we have to look forward to - an even wider audience for Rich's 'talent', as exemplified by this week's entry, a pointless, meandering take on Rich's favorite straw man, the incredibly repressive everyman conservative who is stifling the ability of people that Rich likes from telling dirty jokes and displaying full frontal nudity during Saturday morning TV hour, in pursuit of their art. How tiresome - another liberal crying out that he is being muzzled from that most prominent of platforms, the New York Times. Irony, it seems, is in short supply in the Big Apple these days.

Today's Must-Read: Rosett Strikes Again

I've praised Claudia Rosett lavishly for her work on Oil-For-Food. This article on the dangers facing the nascent Lebanese opposition is another example of why she is one of the finest contemparary journalists. As I've indicated previously, I intend to post at length on this soon. TGIF, folks...

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Whither Gore? Whether Kerry? What The...?

Punditish, whose site I greatly enjoy despite his mocking of me, has had some interesting posts of late regarding 2008. One he was kind enough to email me on, and I must say, I'm not sure what to make of it. Chris Matthews said Gore was definitely out this week, on what he called very good authority, but I've seen neither hide nor hair of confirmation. The headline from Punditish suggests it's a no-brainer, but I think there is a very real possibility that he can't stand to stay out. Still, Matthews may know something we don't, and I haven't revisited Gore's odds in a while. I'm punching him down.


The Kerry rumours have been running in the opposite direction. Kerry is seriously considering a run, and that doesn't surprise me a bit. Given his incredible arrogance, the 2004 loss must haunt him. However, I agree with the analysis of Punditish that Kerry has little or no chance. There is also the unique effect of Kerry upon the electorate - the more he is seen and heard, the worse he does. Therefore, in light of this new information - you guessed it - I'm knocking him down further, too.


Miscellanea: When Bumper Stickers Kill Edition

John Hawkins has a good post on a partisan who went just a tad too far...

Jeff at the Bernoulli Effect follows up on that Kevin Drum piece with some nice analysis...

Yeah, and Neville Chamberlain was the hero of World War II...

Someday I'm gonna do a long post on my thoughts on science and religion, and why they needn't be opposed; in the meantime, here's this from Michelle Malkin...

Both sides of the blogosphere are up in arms about the new bankruptcy bill nearing final passage, and I'm not too thrilled with it either. Tom Maguire has all the good links...

Rich Lowry on Syria, Lebanon, and the dueling protests; I'll be blogging at length on this situation later (hat tip to Betsy's Page)...

Bono for World Bank President? Don't Laugh...

The L.A. Times got a lot of press recently when it ran an editorial suggesting Bono, the frontman for the last of the great rock'n'roll bands, as the new head of the World Bank. This is the kind of idea that's so nuts it's brilliant. Bono would certainly make a better candidate than deposed HP chief Carly Fiorina, another high-profile potential candidate. What would make me, a died-in-the-wool conservative, an advocate of a do-gooder rock star sticking his nose into politics?

Well, for one thing, his nose is already there, and unlike such limousine liberals as Babs Streisand, Bono does his homework. Since 1985, when U2 blew away the world with its iconic performance at Live Aid, Bono has been a tireless advocate of the poor, particularly in Africa. Currently, he is a major force behind DATA, an organization devoted to debt relief and the fight against AIDS, which is rolling across the African continent in an unbelievably devestating wave.

Bono doesn't survey the scene from a distance, then write a big check. He has been there, on the ground, to see with his own eyes the despair among many of the world's poorest. He has been willing to work across the aisle, working with such unlikely allies as Jesse Helms and John Snow, who added fuel to the story this weekend by refusing to rule out Bono as a candidate for the short list for World Bank chief.

The best reason, however, to choose Bono would be his willingness to use his celebrity for the benefit of others. I have had the good fortune to be present for four U2 concerts, and they are the stuff of legend: inspiring, passionate, uplifting affairs that leave the audience feeling alive and motivated. At each of these concerts, Bono has made a point of thanking the fans for making him wealthy and comfortable beyond his wildest dreams, and giving him the life he has. He makes it clear he realizes his strange good fortune, and the slightly ridiculous position it puts him in, but even more, what a moral crime it would be to not use these blessings in the service of others.

Unfortunately, it ain't gonna happen. As this Slate piece points out, the job is traditionally given to an American, and despite Bono's love affair with the States (see Rattle and Hum), he loves his native Ireland too much to become a U.S. citizen. Besides, he's kind of busy with his other gig, you know, the one that pays the bills. U2's instant-sellout Vertigo tour is booked through the end of the year, and there's tens of millions of dollars of other people's money that would fly out the window should he cancel.

A nice dream, yes, and I love dreamers, but this one will remain just that...

Today's Must-Read: Density, Uniformity, and Relationships in the Blogosphere

Kevin Drum has an excellent post up summarizing a study on the connections (or lack thereof) between the top liberal and conservative blogs...some of the findings may surprise you, others won't at all, but there's a cool chart, too! Check it out...

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Weekly Jackass Number Fourteen: Dan Rather

Really, who else could it be? I've already paid a tongue-in-cheek tribute to Gunga Dan in the series Rather Excellent Tales, so I thought I'd pretty much shut up for a change and let others do this week's installment. Let's see what everyone else is saying:
  1. Philip Chalk in the Weekly Standard traces Dan's dishonesty back to that fateful day in November 1963, as he claimed to be the first to report the President was dead (wrong! - and I got it wrong in Rather Excellent Tales, too), and claimed some Dallas schoolchildren cheered upon hearing of President Kennedy's death (wrong again - they cheered upon being told they were being let out early - they were not told why).
  2. Jim Geraghty at the National Review has a hilarious sendoff that argues for the increasing irrelevance of the nightly news format. Best line: 'The evening news is designed for the attention span of an overcaffeinated ferret'...
  3. Mark Steyn digs up an old profile from October, 2001 - he plays it rather (no pun intended) straight, for him.
  4. Cheese and Crackers has the signoff, if you want to watch it and get all misty-eyed.
  5. Tom Shales at the Washington Post says Dan is leaving by the high road...
  6. ...but deacon at Power Line is not convinced.
  7. Jacques Steinberg at the New York Times focuses on Rather's chance to 'redeem' himself through his new (old) reporting gig.
  8. Betsy Newmark thinks Cronkite should show a little class.
  9. At PoliPundit, Lorie Byrd says this has been a long time coming.
  10. PC540 has the top ten Rather quotes.
  11. Outside the Beltway has a good compilation.
  12. The Templar Pundit has a complilation, too, of his own reactions to MemoGate.
  13. For extra points, see if you can guess the tone of this piece by Brent Bozell: Dan Rather's Shoddy Legacy.
  14. Scrappleface reports that Rather saved his most shocking confession for his last day on the job.
Fourteen links for our fourteenth Weekly Jackass...and so an era ends. Courage, Dan. Courage...

I Must Be Doin' Something Right...

...because the Democratic Underground is calling me a jerk. Referring to my Weekly Jackass on Keith Olbermann, Catchawave posts:
I hate to give the jerk attention, and not even sure if we even want to include such freepin' drivel in our group? It did give me an idea for a segment....

Which would open with a series of bowling balls going down the gutter! Sort of like our Hate Mail bag...only Keith would read hateful comments about him from the internet, and reply to it with all his glorious snarkalicious charm.

I know O'Reilly likes to respond to critical emails on his show, but he's so hateful....the freepers love that. What the freeps hate, is being teased

Oh well, I just never could understand why people dedicate blogs and websites to being so darn negative. Guess that just proves they can't handle the truth
Actually, I think I'm pretty positive most of the time...but hey, to each his own...I stand by the original column, the Weekly Jackass concept (oh, and it's Wednesday, so we'll have a new one this evening), and I welcome any and all dissenters, as long as (as I've stated many times before) you keep it relatively go ahead, reply to me, Keith, with all your 'glorious snarkalicious charm'...I'm a big boy, I can take it.

Wictory Wednesday: Santorum in Trouble

Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania is facing a difficult battle, and his campaign is the beneficiary of this week's Wictory Wednesday. Read PoliPundit's post here and (you know the drill) check out a couple of random blogs from the blogroll at bottom right; they'll appreciate the traffic.

A lot of people got all hysterical over Santorum's widely publicized reaction to the issue of gay marriage. For a more reasoned look at his comments, I suggest this post by John Hawkins.

The Bush Freedom Tour Continues: IRA, You're Next

Recommended reading: Bush calls for the end of the IRA after an astonishing murder offer; " can't sign up for the rule of law a la carte," says U.S. Special Envoy Mitchell Reiss...

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

I Have Seen The Past of Rock and Roll...

...and, with apologies with Jon Landau, his name is Paul Westerberg.!!! Several hundred of my new best friends and I just witnessed the epitome of a great club show. (I even got to act like an elder statesman...the college kids were enthralled with my stories of Replacement shows gone by...really...I'm not kidding!). All I can say is WOW - during the finale of Alex Chilton, I think the room collectively danced off two tons of excess weight...what a night (and if you wondered why no evening updates, now you know!). I'll be talking to you tomorrow...pleasant dreams!

Quick Shots: Is Hillary Inevitable? Edition

Lots of talk about this Boston Globe article by Joan Vennochi. Here's the take from deacon at Power Line...

Michelle Malkin links to a statement from Russ Feingold: "THERE IS NO REASON TO THINK THE FEC SHOULD OR INTENDS TO REGULATE BLOGS"...

Holy Cow! Ted Kennedy WAS next (and the meme continues to spread)...

Thank God for McCain-Feingold

Senator John McCain is under fire for pushing legislation favored by a large corporation that donated substantial sums of money to an advocacy group closely related to him.

Good thing we're getting that big money out of politics, eh? (Just kidding, FEC, nothing to see here, just move along...that comment shouldn't be construed as political speech)...

Rather Excellent Tales: Old Blowhards Never Fade Away

1989 to Present: The last several years have seen Rather slide into increasing irrelevance. Rather has become so biased that even Andy Rooney has commented on it, calling Dan 'transparently liberal'. He has presided over a disastrous decline in the ratings of CBS News, more so than the other networks, so cable can't be blamed entirely. From 1993-1995, Rather was humiliatingly forced to share anchor duties with Connie Chung, but otherwise, CBS stuck with its star money-loser. That is, until Memogate. It's interesting to contemplate how quickly the story would have broke in the pre-blog age, if at all. I've enjoyed this look back at the career of everyone's favorite pompous media figure, and I'll let you in on a little secret: I'm glad Rather will continue to be a part of CBS News - after all, we need our villians to remind us of who the good guys are. What would Superman be without Lex Luther?

FUN FACTS: Dan Rather's daughter Robin is a prominent fundraiser and activist in Austin. I also live in Austin. I have never been in the same room as Dan Rather or his daughter...could it be? Am I...Dan Rather? Only Karl Rove knows for sure...

Rather Excellent Tales: Birth of a Legend
Rather Excellent Tales: The College Years
Rather Excellent Tales: Heading on Down to Houston Town
Rather Excellent Tales: A Star is Born
Rather Excellent Tales: On to CBS
Rather Excellent Tales: The White House Years
Rather Excellent Tales: The Glory Years

One Small Step for a Blogger, One Giant Leap for Blogkind

The good news: the White House has credentialed its first blogger; the bad news, it wasn't me...(sigh)...oh, well, at least I have you...wait, where are you going?....(sigh)...

Monday, March 07, 2005

Miscellanea: Blame It On Davos Edition

Note to all public figures, everywhere: cancel plans to attend next year's World Economic Forum...

Fred Kaplan at Slate says that Bush's new UN appointee shows that we intend to work outside of the United Nations and continue our unilateralism...and that's a mistake because????...

If you've ever lived next to awful neighbors (and I have), you can sympathize with this post...

The latest casualty of the 'Hey, Maybe Bush Was Right' meme? Bill Richardson...

Argan Argar says the Gannon affair isn't going's just going meta...

ItsComeDown2This has your daily Ward Churchill fix...

Gail Collins = Lawrence Summers?

While reading a Washington Post piece by Howard Kurtz on the Kinsley-Estrich kerfuffle (hat tip to the Instapundit), I noticed the following quote from Gail Collins, the editor of the NY Times editorial page:
"The pool of available people doing opinion writing is still tilted toward men. There are probably fewer women, in the great cosmic scheme of things, who feel comfortable writing very straight opinion stuff, and they're less comfortable hearing something on the news and batting something out."
For the life of me, I can't figure out the substantive difference between this statement and that of Lawrence Summers, other than the fact that Summers used more careful wording. I fully expect Nancy Hopkins to make this into a huge excuse me, if I don't leave the room, I may faint.

UPDATE 3:21 pm: Thanks to the wise and wonderful Instapundit for the link...while you're here, hope you'll stay a while and look around. Have a good one...

Breaking News: CU President Resigns

The president of the University of Colorado has resigned in the wake of the Ward Churchill controversy and a football scandal involving sexual favors as a recruiting tool. Elizabeth Hoffman also stated that a review under way of Churchill's conduct would only result in his firing if actual misconduct is shown, not just inflammatory comments.

This is not Eason Jordan revisited; very high-profile columnists and political figures were all over this one. Still, the blogswarm undoubtably brought the issue a higher national profile. Will Churchill himself be next? Stay tuned...I know I will.

Today's Must-Read: Is Libertarianism the Marxism of the Right?

Robert Locke has a very interesting article in Pat Buchanan's American Conservative (hat tip to RealClearPolitics) that's well worth the read. Cast as a refutation of the most commonly understood tenant of libertarianism (individual freedom is the highest good), it just as easily serves as an essay on the Ayn Rand school of thought (the virtue of selfishness) versus the socialist model (the community as the highest good).

Libertarians themselves are sure to object to Locke's characterization of their belief system; his reply is that that's the same way the Marxists played it - define a version for the masses, but practice a version that looks much different. I can't adopt a totally libertarian viewpoint myself (I'm more of a Spiderman conservative - i.e., 'with great power comes great responsibility'). I'm not totally comfortable with Locke's vision of a state that protects us from our own poor decisions, either - now a state that protects me from the poor decisions of others, that's a whole different matter.

Essentially, the essence of Locke's argument is the danger of absolutism, in this case, the absolute primacy of individual choice. I'm absolutely sure you should read this article - it's food for thought, regardless of your own view.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Candidate Profile Twelve: John McCain

NOTE: If you have landed here from a Google search for John McCain's resume, welcome. I'd also like to invite you to visit my new, improved blog here. Come join the conversation!...

Presidential Primaries 2008 has a post on John McCain's possible entry into the presidential derby; close friends are calling it a 50/50 proposition. There is much wisdom to be found in the comments to the post; I recommend you read them as well. One factor overshadows all others when talking about a McCain run: can the Senator appeal enough to the conservative base to last through the primaries? As Kevin Murphy posts, McCain would have a pretty good shot in a general election, given his appeal to centrists, moderates, and the press, but the primary season would be rough sledding indeed.

John Sidney McCain, III - official homepage, with a really weak biography - I suggest this one, instead

Although there are plenty of blogs commenting on McCain in 2008, I could find no unofficial McCain 2008 blogs of substance; suggestions are welcome

Resume: United States Navy pilot, 1958-1981; prisoner of war in Vietnam 1967-1973; recipient of the Silver Star, Legion of Merit, Purple Heart, and Distinguished Flying Cross; United States Congressman for Arizona, 1983-1986; United States Senator for Arizona, 1987 - present

John McCain is a genuine war hero; any man that survived 5 1/2 years of captivity, including one year of torture and two of solitary confinement, is deserving of our eternal gratitude. To have survived such an ordeal, and still kept one's sanity and ambition, is nothing short of a miracle. War heroes, of course, have a undeniable political appeal, and that certainly works in McCain's favor.

Also on the positive side of the ledger is McCain's real and quite apparent efforts to heal some of the ruffled feathers of Election 2000 with his unwavering support of President Bush's 2004 bid. Bush played rough with McCain in 2000, no doubt, and McCain seemed to crack a little under the pressure; to his credit, he swallowed his pride and took one for the team this time around, and that's bound to have earned him some political capital.

I consider McCain a heavyweight candidate for the above reasons, and for his enduring appeal to the press corps, who seem to genuinely enjoy McCain's somewhat overblown 'straight talk'. His appeal to the center means he would win some crossover voters from the Democratic side, particularly if the progressives begin to dominate the 2008 season.

Great, then, let's call it a day and hand McCain the nomination...that was easy, and thanks for dropping by...but hold on a second, there's a big elephant parading around the room, and it's not just the GOP symbol. Does McCain have the bonafides when it comes to the Republican base? The media has overplayed the 'Religious Right' as an entity, but as a description of a good chunk of solid Republicans, religious right (lower case) fits as well as any. John McCain will have a LOT of work to do to win this group over; he had a famous dustup with Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell in 2000, and this has resulted in the perception, whether fair or not, that he is somewhat antagonistic to evangelicals.

In a perfect world, or at least my version of it, Republicans would not require litmus tests of our candidates, but campaign finance reform is going to haunt McCain, and, in my view, probably sink his candidacy (and I do think he'll run). Most conservatives, myself included, view McCain-Feingold as an unacceptable infringement upon First Amendment rights (and this past week's 'will-they-or-won't-they regulate the blogosphere' kerfuffle didn't win McCain any friends among the bloggers).

McCain's candidacy is going to well-covered; it's going to suck a lot of oxygen out of the room; and it's going to spark some pretty ugly skirmishes; ultimately, though, it's not going to succeed.


UPDATE 05/25/05 8:22 a.m. central: McCain's stance on the judicial deal has once again alienated the base.


UPDATE 06/15/05: McCain's making nice again, and I'm making an improbably wild swing in the odds and bumping him up big on the heels of the trial balloons he's beginning to float.


UPDATE 07/24/2005 10:56 p.m.:

see here...

In Praise Of: Paul Westerberg

If you're not a fan of alternative rock pioneers The Replacements, you're probably scratching your head and saying, "Paul WHO?" Those who do know will probably smile wistfully in remembrance of days gone by. Westerberg was the de facto leader and lyricist of the late, great Minneapolis band. Their first album was released while they were teenagers, in love with drinking, smoking, and rock-and-roll; they were a garage band even when they recorded for major labels and toured with Tom Petty; and they were, of course, doomed to flame out when success finally came knocking.

I'm going to see Westerberg Tuesday evening at La Zona Rosa in Austin. I'm not sure what to expect, other than a sloppy, alcohol-fueled (I'm talking about him...I drink very lightly these days, as I am no fan of going to work hungover, or DWIs), incoherent, yet brilliant on some level, performance. I was fortunate enough to see the Replacements four times during college; two shows, at the Texas Union Theatre on the UT campus, and the Bronco Bowl in Dallas, were excellent - great playing, relative soberness on the part of the band, if not the crowd, and decently long sets. The other two were a mess: opening for Tom Petty at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin, and especially in Nashville, they were uncomfortable with the crowd, blindingly drunk, and quite hostile.

So far, this must sound like an odd tribute - what's so great about loud-mouthed, dirty, drunk ruffians? If I wanted to read about that, you're probably thinking, I could just go to the Democratic Underground. Well, the silver lining was the songs. Westerberg is a poet in a lout's shell; his inner intelligence and sympathetic worldview keep pushing out from under the rough edges of his persona. Consider the self-awareness of Swinging Party, from the impossibly great album Tim:
Bring your own lampshade, somewhere there's a party
Here it's never endin', can't remember when it started
Pass around the lampshade, there'll be plenty enough room in jail
If bein' wrong's a crime, I'm serving forever
If bein' strong's your kind, then I need help here with this feather
If bein' afraid is a crime, we hang side by side
At the swingin' party down the line
The self-doubt and wariness are palpable. Or try the lament of the aimless alcoholic, in Here Comes a Regular, also from Tim:

Well a person can work up a mean, mean thirst
After a hard day of nothin' much at all
Summer's passed, it's too late to cut the grass
There ain't much to rake anyway in the fall...

Kneeling alongside old Sad Eyes
He says opportunity knocks once then the door slams shut
All I know is I'm sick of everything that my money can buy
The fool who wastes his life, God rest his guts

First the lights, then the collar goes up, and the wind begins to blow
Turn your back on a pay-you-back, last call
First the glass, then the leaves that pass, then comes the snow
Ain't much to rake anyway in the fall

There's an entire novel written between the lines of this song. 'Kneeling alonside old Sad Eyes' - why kneeling? Did he fall off the barstool? A drunk man known as Sad Eyes, then, lying on the floor, saying (with venom? regret?), "Opportunity knocks once, and the door slams shut" - you can see it in your head, the scene is real and vivid, and oh so poignant.

Westerberg captures perfectly, in song after song, the bathos, angst, and consternation of today's working-class youth, whether it's the endless repeated query of the anthem Unsatisfied -
Look me in the eye
And tell me that I'm satisfied
Are you satisfied?
- or the lonely, insecure young man who can't get his object of desire to answer the phone in Answering Machine (both from the superlative Let It Be):
How do you say I miss you to
An answering machine?
How do you say good night to
An answering machine?
How do you say I'm lonely to
An answering machine?
The message is very plain
Oh, I hate your answering machine
I hate your answering machine
I hate your answering machine...
So I lift the glass to you, Paul Westerberg, and regardless of whether Tuesday night's show is one of the great ones, or a chaotic nightmare, I thank you for providing much of the soundtrack of my college years. I couldn't have asked for a better companion.

Miscellanea: The Virus Spreads Edition

The latest casualties of the 'Hey, Maybe Bush is Right' meme: the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board, Fareed Zakaria (again!), and Sandy Berger(!!) , as quoted in this Michael Duffy Piece. Will Ted Kennedy be next?...

ScrappleFace reports that Bush is furiously trying to clarify 'The Stern-Syrius-Syria-Sternness' controversy...

Will Lawrence Summers ever learn? The Therapist has the latest controversy...

Question: Why don't Ward Churchill and Noam Chomsky focus their energies on a current practitioner of slavery?...

Steven Taylor has an excellent commentary on Senator Robert 'The Conscience of the KKK' Byrd and the Nuclear Option (hat tip to Outside the Beltway)...

We conclude with a discussion of a more urgent nature: whether Mick Taylor was a better complement to Keith than Ron Woods...

The Case Against Ward Churchill

Dan Caplis and Craig Silverman lay out the most succinct case I have seen thus far that Ward Churchill should be fired. In this editorial in the Rocky Mountain News, we are presented with the following bill of particulars:

Churchill stands credibly accused of ethnic fraud, grade retribution, falsification of the nature of his military service, academic fraud, plagiarism, selling other artists' creations as his own and falsely accusing Denver Post columnist Diane Carman of inventing incendiary quotations.

All this provides ample justification for termination pursuant to accusations of incompetence and lack of integrity. But it is Churchill's instructions on violence that demand immediate suspension followed by termination. Due process must be provided, but unless this accused can somehow suppress his own statements, he should ultimately lose his job.

Here is what Churchill preaches: The U.S. is fascist and Nazi-like. Genocide has been and continues to be perpetrated by our government here and abroad. America was illegally colonized by non-natives who now should be killed (One example of him saying this: "Killing the colonizer is a figurative proposition, it is a literal proposition, but either way, and by all available means, the proposition has to be fulfilled.")

According to this CU professor, violence is necessary to dismantle the illegal entity that is the U.S. Churchill's recorded reactions to 9/11 were "Right on!" and a statement that "The action was correct." On April 19, 1995, according to one former student, Churchill praised and celebrated the Oklahoma City bombing during his CU class.

Capis and Silverman are trial attorneys who host a show on KHOW talk radio in Denver. They have put together a very interesting collection of links to back up their charges.

When reading the excerpt provided above, one is immediately struck by the similarities between Churchill's views and those of the Chomskyite progressive faction of the Left. The charges of fascism and genocide are the bread and butter of these Marxists. Churchill's own Marxist credentials are impeccable: classes formerly taught by him include Basic Marxism, Marxism and the Native American, Cultural Marxism, and Principles of Third World Revolt.

Of course, it is not a crime to be a Marxist, nor is it outside the realm of acceptable academic discourse to lay the charges of genocide and fascism against America (if it were, Noam Chomsky would be seeking work right now). Even Churchill's infamous essay calling the victims of 9/11 'little Eichmanns' is not, in itself, an offense that warrants removal (though it surely warrants ostracism, and as a polemic, it is a very poor example, indeed). Nor is it against the law to be a hateful misanthrope. Based on these facts, and these facts alone, I originally joined in the crowd saying that Churchill was a pathetic wretch, but he should be allowed to retain his employment.

Subsequent revelations have shown that judgment to be hasty. It's important to state that while I hold Chomsky in contempt for his blame-America-first attitudes, I in no way mean to imply that he is guilty of the abuses of Churchill. From all appearances, Churchill has fabricated his military record and genealogy (to gain 'street cred', no doubt). Immediately, as an administrator or regent, a giant red flag concerning my hire's integrity should be flashing in front of my eyes. (For a different perspective on Churchill's self-identification as a native American, see here).

Then there is the curious history of Churchill's art (if by curious, you mean fraudulent). The final nail in the integrity coffin, so to speak, is Churchill's academic fraud. In the academic world, there are few charges more serious, but Churchill, never one to rest one his laurels, throws in a little plagiarism to sweeten the deal.

Others have written extensively and eloquently on the subject of Churchill's love affair with terrorism (Michelle Malkin, Pirate Ballerina, and FrontPage Magazine are good jumping-off points); that is a matter for law enforcement, should they choose to pursue it. The credibility issues are another matter entirely.

Falsification of one's record, plagiarism, shoddy scholarship, and fraudulent claims in academic works not only give an institution grounds to fire someone, they obligate the institution to do so. To keep Ward Churchill on the faculty is a slap in the face to all serious professors and academics, and a great disservice to the CU students and alumni. The matter is no longer whether one should be fired for unpopular, even incendiary, views; it's now a question of academic integrity, for Churchill and the institution that employs him.