Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Slogan for Day 2

Last night the big banners hanging in Madison Square Garden read "A Nation of Courage." Tonight, they've been changed to "People of Compassion." Nominees for Days 3 and 4?

Double Your Weird

The Bush twins' introduction of their mother (and father) can only be described as dada. Could it be that they, like John Kerry before them, wrote their convention remarks themselves?
Hugh Hewitt had a tussle with Terry McAuliffe this morning. The transcript should be up soon, stay tuned.
Mickey Kaus is all over this week's hidden story: The possible Team Kerry shake-up.

Hey, it worked for Howard Dean! Oh, wait, never mind.
Okay, Arnold Schwarzenegger's a great guy, and bully for him for being governor and coming to speak at the convention, but should he really have emphasized in his personal narrative how it was Richard Nixon who made him a Republican?

Here me now and listen to me the day after next Tuesday, I am a Nixon Republican!
It's true the press has been giving John Kerry a hard time. Here's how one columnist recently described the Democratic presidential nominee: "…Kerry is frustrating and infuriating because he seems not to believe much of anything worth risking offense … what infuriates [me] about Kerry is his wish to be all things to all people--or, at any rate, not to give them any basis for attacking him…. Is Kerry acting on advice of his political advisers, or does he really have no important and articulable policy differences with the man he would replace? If the former, it strikes me as questionable advice; if the latter, it suggests a president who would be weak on leadership." The columnist is not, however, George Will or Charles Krauthammer. Rather, it is lefty writer William Raspberry in yesterday's Washington Post.

And today another columnist says Kerry "seems to be speaking from under water, making glub, glub sounds as he tries to explain his original vote in support of the Iraq war resolution, his subsequent vote against funding the war and now his conduct in Vietnam lo these many years ago and what he said afterward … as a public speaker he is no public speaker." The writer goes on describe the senator as being trapped "in a kind of rhetorical molasses" and thinks he ought to learn from John McCain. "It is a magical thing McCain does: Tell the truth, tell it simply and get on with life." And again, this columnist is no Robert Novak, but rather the liberal Richard Cohen.

What's next? An article by James Carville calling John Kerry the second coming of Michael Dukakis? Unlikely, but at least we know there are some on the left who are starting to think this.
For fellow Monk fans, a tragedy.

Will They Wear White?

Also from the Times this morning:

"We are going to be out there dressed in white, to stand out and be dramatic," said Ed Hedemann, an organizer of the War Resisters League, which describes itself as a secular, pacifist organization. "Probably by the end of our incarceration we will be grubby."

Yeah. Probably.

Radical Chic

What’s with the mainstreaming of this suicide-bomber/jihadi fashion of wearing a handkerchief to cover one’s face? Sure, it was once a cowboy thing, but it’s been a terrorist thing for a while, and now your more stylish American street protester has made it into a must-have accessory. Rosario Dawson, hot actress, dimbulb Bush hater was arrested in NYC yesterday, marching on Madison Square Garden. Says Fox news Channel website: "She and another person were wearing handkerchiefs as masks with only their eyes showing."

New York Hospitality

I mentioned a few anecdotes last night about the general unpleasantness some New Yorkers have been showing Republicans. The New York Times has a more detailed piece this morning.

A small sampling of New Yorkers' hospitality, from the Times:

Outside a hotel in Times Square, delegates to the Republican National Convention were swarmed by protesters dressed in black and swearing at them. Blocks away, delegates engaged in shoving matches with protesters seeking to spoil their night at the theater. And outside "The Lion King" on 42nd Street, a delegate was punched by a protester who ran by. . . .

When marchers approached the Garden, a police detective was knocked off his scooter. He was then repeatedly kicked and punched in the head by at least one male demonstrator, the police said. . . .

Yesterday, Jamie Moran, who lives in Brooklyn and describes himself as an anarchist and helps direct the rncnotwelcome.org Web site, was roaming Times Square with a band of protesters shouting at delegates. "These people are in a bubble," he said. "This is absolutely better than standing outside the Garden and shouting to let them know they are not welcome here."

As a poll in the New York Sun showed, the majority of these protestors aren't from Berkley or Seattle--most of them are New Yorkers.

Imagine for a minute that the Democrats held their convention in the most conservative city in America--maybe Salt Lake or Oklahoma City or Huston--what do you think the chances are that the locals would treat them this way?

The Two Parties

My piece on last night's speeches at the Republican convention is posted here.

Monday, August 30, 2004

I'm in Madison Square Garden sitting in the press section watching what amounts to the opening ceremonies of the Republican convention. There are lots of serious pieces posted over at weeklystandard.com, and you should go there, but I have some shallow observations about what's going on:

(1) Madison Square Garden is a pit. Unlike the gleaming new Fleet Center in Boston, the Garden feels ancient and dilapidated--and not in a charming way.

(2) If you were going to be charitable about the set design, you might call it minimalist. If you were going to be a little more forthright, you would say that it looks cheap and off-the-shelf. Everything in Boston, from the backdrop to the placards with the states' names on them, was a tiny work of art. Everything here looks as though it's made of cardboard and plastic. Also, many, many fewer balloons. (What is CNN going to do?!?) Does any of this matter? Of course not. But I'm just saying.

(3) To fill the time between speakers in Boston, the Democrats did a series of "Switch" ads, featuring testimonials from Republicans who said they were voting for Kerry this time around. Here, there are a series of man-on-the-street interviews from young women with RNC microphones who resemble the peppy cub reporters you see on small-town local newscasts.

(4) We aren't yet at the main event for tonight--Rudy and McCain--but there are a lot of empty seats.

(5) All of which brings me to one of the big questions about this week: What effect are the protesters having? I've debated this back and forth with colleagues, and most of them say the protesters hurt Kerry and help Bush. Their rationale is as follows: The protesters are the face of the Democrats this week, and the GOP has effectively labeled them "Democratic protesters" in most news accounts. Calm, in-control grownups like Giuliani, McCain, Cheney, and Bush are the face of Republicans. Advantage: Bush.

This may be so, but I'm not convinced. Boston had the feel of one big party. Walking the streets of midtown Manhattan, there's tension. Almost every aspect of the convention is tied up with the notion of confrontation. I think that takes a lot of energy and can't help but sap Republicans who have come here from across the country. As the week goes on, instead of building to a crescendo, they may just get tired of having New Yorkers shouting at them on the streets telling them to "go home" (I've heard that) or snickering behind their backs in restaurants (as happened to me tonight).

This isn't a party so much as an extended high-school cafeteria show-down. And the delegates I've seen around town don't look like they're having the time of their lives. At least not yet.

On the other hand, Angie Harmon is slated to take the stage in a few minutes, which makes this entire thing a success in my book.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

If this item from Drudge is true, it's even more shocking than the booing Kerry got at Fenway. Not a good sign for him.
David Brooks has a long New York Times Magazine piece this morning. It's about the future of the Republican party, but it's most notable for his clear-eyed description of what the war on terror really is:

The War on Islamic extremism. The first great agenda item has been thrust upon us. This has been miscast as a war on terror, but terror is just the means our enemies use. In reality, we're fighting a war against a specific brand of Islamic extremism, a loose federation of ideologues who seek to dominate the Middle East and return it to the days of the caliphate.

We are in the beginning of this war, where we were against Bolshevism around 1905 or Fascism in the early 1930's, with enemies that will continue to gain strength, thanks to the demographic bulge in the Middle East producing tens of millions of young men, politically and economically stagnant societies ensuring these young men have nothing positive to do and an indoctrination system designed to turn them into soldiers for the cause. This fight will organize our politics for a generation, as the Cold War did.

What do you think the chances are that President Bush will cast the war on terror in these terms?

It's 1971, Stupid

I mentioned earlier that Kerry's April 22, 1971 testimony was worth reading in its entirety. If you haven't gotten to it, do it now. Some excerpts which haven't been highlighted yet:

. . . I want to relate to you the feeling that many of the men who have returned to this country express because we are probably angriest about all that we were told about Vietnam and about the mystical war against communism. . . .


We saw Vietnam ravaged equally by American bombs as well as by search and destroy missions, as well as by Viet Cong terrorism, and yet we listened while this country tried to blame all of the havoc on the Viet Cong.


We fought using weapons against "Oriental human beings," with quotation marks around that. We fought using weapons against those people which I do not believe this country would dream of using were we fighting in the European theater or let us say a non-Third-World-people theater . . .


. . . the point is they are not a free people now under us. They are not a free people, and we cannot fight communism all over the world, and I think we should have learned that lesson by now.


An American Indian friend of mine who lives in the Indian Nation at Alcatraz put it to me very succinctly. He told me how as a boy on an Indian reservation he had watched television and he used to cheer the cowboys when they came in and shot the Indians, and then suddenly one day he stopped in Vietnam and he said, "My God, I am doing to these people the very same thing that was done to my people."

It's truly an amazine document. If I was John Kerry, I'd much rather debate whether or not I earned my Purple Hearts than whether or not I meant what I said in 1971.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Niall Ferguson has a typically engaging and thoughtful piece over at OpinionJounral. He posits that a Bush defeat might actually be good for conservatism.

You should read it, because it's Ferguson, and he's always a fine read. But his larger point is, while very clever, completely wrong.

The smartest thing Fred Barnes ever said to me is that if there's one Iron Law of Politics, it's this: Winning always beats losing. When you win, problems recede, divisions smooth over, and you control, at least a little bit, your own direction.

When you lose, problems are magnified, divisions become more pronounced, and--worst of all--you become even more susceptible to events outside your control.

Friday, August 27, 2004

My piece on how the blogosphere forced the old media to cover the Swifties is up now.

Suck-Up Watch 2

Bill Kristol is cruel enough to reprint John Kerry's 1971 testimony in its entirety.

I suspect that the reason Kerry decided to confront the Swift boat vets head-on was because he preferred a fight with them about his service record to a fight about what he said after he got out of the Navy.
I've been wondering about this since the morning the plane went down. There's conflicting evidence and it's unclear what the truth is, but it is worrisome.
This would, perhaps, be an excellent time to remind readers that we are in no way affiliated with The Weekly Standard, News Corporation, or Rupert Murdoch.
Remember your mother's advice to "courtesy flush"? No doubt 19-year-old Jesse Huffman, a student at Montana State University-Bozeman, is wishing he'd heeded that advice. According to the Great Falls Tribune, after Huffman and four friends returned from a trip to Alberta, border officials at the Port of Sweet Grass (on the U.S. side) ordered a random search of the car, resulting in an illegal possession of alcohol charge for the driver. But while this was happening, Huffman asked to use the port's bathroom. When he finished, officers discovered their toilet was clogged. And apparently there isn't a plunger within 40 miles. Fuming, the port authority officials charged Huffman with a misdemeanor crime--for allegedly deliberately stopping up a toilet--that could lead to a revoking of Huffman's federal college loans, $1,000 in fines, and six months in jail. Huffman insists his clogging was unintentional, that he suffers Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and that he used, "at most," a fifth of a roll of toilet paper.

Could the port authorities be straining their case? If the officers go to trial and push for heavy fines and jail time, won't that only clog a legal system already flush with litigation? But if Huffman wins, it will most certainly be his crowning moment.
Soxblog takes Howell Raines to task for his Washington Post op-ed this morning and, although Soxblog scores a number of points, he fails to note how cruel is was for the Post editors to put Raines and Charles Krauthammer on the same page, writing about almost the same subject.

The thought which occured to me was: Boy, the Posties sure are sticking it to the Times today.

1971: Kerry vs. O'Neill

If you haven’t yet checked out the 1971 Dick Cavett show debate between John Kerry and John O’Neill, you’re too late. C-Span no longer has it on their website and viewer services says they’re not airing it again.

Which is too bad. O’Neill, whom of course gets little respect in Douglas Brinkley’s telling in Tour of Duty, did a very good job debating the more curtain-ready Kerry. Only 25 at the time (Kerry himself was only 28), O’Neill went at the future presidential nominee like gangbusters. And scored a lot of points, the most important of which was that Kerry had elected himself spokesperson of veterans even as he slandered the American soldier and command in Vietnam as war criminals.

Kerry played defense most of the time, but missed few opportunities to turn the table on O’Neill whenever he tried to generalize about American veterans himself. Kerry also proved himself capable of real showstoppers. O’Neill correctly seized on the Vietnam Veterans Against the War’s Winter Soldier hearings to point out that these so-called witnesses to war crimes were refusing to submit themselves for depositions so that justice could be done if, indeed, war crimes had been committed. Kerry masterfully announced that he’d brought a winter soldier to the show with him that night who was prepared to give a deposition on live television right now. (How do you like them apples?)

Pure theater, sure, but good theater, and an early indicator of the grand confident gestures of which Kerry is capable. To his credit, O’Neill was little flapped ridiculous suggestion.

Watching the debate, you also have to be amazed by the poise of these two twentysomethings, who are on national television, fighting hard and long for about an hour total. This kind of programming is a thing of the past, which is too bad. Instead of light touches like Dick Cavett, we have, well, the usual cable-news head-banging, which is sometimes intelligent, but rarely graceful.

Dog. Alligator. Man with a pocket knife. It's on!
Ever wonder what's wrong in Hollywood? Read this post on the script that's circulating for Jurassic Park 4.

Two words: Dinosaur commandos.

UPDATE: My brother, who is part of the vast Hollywood machine, writes in: "Jurassic Park 4 could work, if they only had 4 dinosaur commandos instead of 5; if they were ninjas--because ninjas are sweet; and if they changed the names to, I don't know, let's say . . . Renaissance artists. And then they also genetically change the leader guy--who also needs to be a ninja--into something like a giant rat."
Matt Continetti highlights what should be John Kerry's biggest problem in wooing conservatives and September 12 people.

I've always thought that Kerry's flip-flopping wasn't his chief liability. As they say at Reuters, one man's "flip-flop" is another man's "considered abandonment of ideology in the face of contrary political necessity."

In fact, the heart of Kerry's appeal to woo-able conservatives (like me) is that he doesn't really mean all that stuff about multilateralism and sensitive wars; that, if confronted with another September 11, public pressure would force him to abandon his Eurocentrist pose. Then, working with Republican hard-liners in Congress, he would become an anti-terror, super-hawk bad-ass--because it would be politically expedient. All hail the flip-flop!

But Continetti's piece suggests that Kerry may actually have some real convictions: He might really believe that there is no such thing as American exceptionalism and that we bring trouble on ourselves by being imperialist pigs.
Vicky Vegas rides again. A shiny nickel for the first reader who knows where the best quarter roulette on the strip is.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

You should read Skinner's piece telling you to read Norman Podhoretz's piece because even though it's good for you, you're not going to slog through all 30,000 words of the original. You know it, I know it, the American people know it.

The New Us

Before U2 was U2, they were The Hype, and later Feedback. Jefferson Airplane became Starship. The sub Standard is now Galley Slaves. We built this city on rock and roll, whoo-hoo.

A few things that we should have said last week:

(1) Galley Slaves is in no way affiliated with The Weekly Standard, News Corporation, or Rupert Murdoch. (Besides the fact that the three of us work at The Weekly Standard, but that's not a connection, it's a coincidence. You can ask Steve Hayes about the difference.) We are not The Weekly Standard's official blog. The Weekly Standard does not have a blog.

(2) Because we are in no way affiliated with The Weekly Standard, News Corporation, or Rupert Murdoch, none of them can be held responsible for the tripe on this website. They certainly do not endorse the mocking of snooty Russian gymnasts or toenail fungus commercials. That would be beneath their dignity.

(3) All of which means that we are not being paid for this. We are running this blog for fun, which is why we're using blogspot for hosting. While we are happy to waste our time on this little project, we're not happy to waste our hard-earned money.

(4) Did I mention that we are in no way affiliated with The Weekly Standard, News Corporation, or Rupert Murdoch?

We've Moved!!!

After a few short days of blogging, we've moved the blog to Galley Slaves.

The same writers, the same writing, just a new name and URL.

See you there.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Iraqi Soccer

Everyone in the world seems to be quoting the disgruntled Iraqi soccer players. These fine gentlemen think that President Bush shouldn't be allowed to brag about the fact that, should the Iraqi soccer team not win Olympic gold, they won't be tortured upon their return to Baghdad. Go figure. Their quotes, taken mostly from a Grant Wahl Sports Illustrated article have been widely circulated, culminating this week with one of the players, Salih Sadir, being quoted on Newsweek's Perspectives page.

But has no one bothered to read Wahl's entire article? Toward the end we learn that Ahmed Manajid, who seems to be the ringleader of the malcontents, isn't just your average Iraqi citizen.

Manajid is from Falluja. What's more, he has a personal grudge against George Bush, because, as he tells Wahl, his cousin was killed by coalition forces.

Manajid's cousin wasn't killed by accident--he was fighting as an insurgent. So were several of Manajid's friends from home, who are also now dead. Asked if he would be fighting as an insurgent were he not playing soccer, Manajid tells Wahl, "For sure."

These facts might be worth noting, no?

Friday, August 20, 2004

A man believed to be Osama bin Laden's cook has been arrested in Pakistan. Provide your own jokes.
You don't need to have seen last night's Hardball with Chris Matthews to get the sense the show's host had it in for columnist Michelle Malkin, one of the guests, who thought she was on to talk about her book Defense of Interment as well as the swift boat controversy. All you need to do is read MSNBC's transcript and see for yourself. In particular, when Malkin mentions certain allegations in Unfit for Command, Matthews blows a fuse, trying to get the conservative columnist to admit she is the one who's making the charges.

A brief excerpt:

MATTHEWS: What do you mean by self-inflicted? Are you saying he shot himself on purpose? Is that what you're saying?

MALKIN: Did you read the book...

MATTHEWS: I'm asking a simple question. Are you saying that he shot himself on purpose.

MALKIN: I'm saying some of these soldiers...

MATTHEWS: And I'm asking question.

MALKIN: And I'm answering it.

MATTHEWS: Did he shoot himself on purpose.

MALKIN: Some of the soldiers have made allegations that these were self-inflicted wounds.

MATTHEWS: No one has ever accused him of shooting himself on purpose.

MALKIN: That these were self-inflicted wounds.

MATTHEWS: Your saying there are--he shot himself on purpose, that's a criminal act?

MALKIN: I'm saying that I've read the book and some of the...


MATTHEWS: I want an answer yes or no, Michelle.

Thankfully Malkin has her own blog where she lays out her defense (and lays into Matthews too).

Islam and the Olympics

Frank Foer has a dynamite essay in the Wall Street Journal today on the Iranian olympian who refused to compete against an Israeli athlete in judo.

It turns out that this sort of anti-Semitism is common from many Islamic nations during international sporting events. How bad is it? Foer writes, "At last year's Special Olympics in Ireland, both Saudi Arabia and Algeria refused to play Israel in soccer and table tennis."

Does that seem a little bothersome? Don't worry. As President Bush said on September 17, 2001, "Islam is peace."

(On a side note, during that same speech, Bush said, "The English translation is not as eloquent as the original Arabic, but let me quote from the Koran, itself . . ." Who knew the president spoke Arabic!)

The Big Cheez

Over at CJR Liz Cox Barrett notes a Daily Times report saying that George W. Bush does not prefer his cheesesteak "Whiz with" (that's a cheesesteak, with Cheez Whiz, and fried onions for you non-Philly people) as he recently claimed, but instead takes it with "cheese of the American variety." It's a fine little story.

Left out of all the coverage, however, is the real question the president should be asked next time he's in Pennsylvania: Gino's or Pat's?

Charles Krauthammer defends Bush's proposed troop withdrawal. Pretty convincingly.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

The Khorkina, Part два

Obsessing over Svetlana Khorkina tonight, I caught NBC's Very Special Package on the Russian gymnast. "I know that people look at me," she says to the camera. "They watch me."

"I have been great for a long time," she says.

Speaking of these Olympics, she tells the NBC crew: "I want to win as badly as I want to mother my own child. . . . I will go there and get what belongs to me."

And no, I'm not going to find the Russian Playboy pictures for you. That's why God invented Fleshbot.

Cubby Broccoli's on line one--there's a '70s Bond movie missing its villain.
You've Been Pwn3d: Bobby Fischer is using a green-card bride and she's okay with it and ewwwwww. His bride-to-be tells the New York Times: ""I could be a sacrifice pawn. But in chess there is such a thing as pawn promotion, where a pawn can become a queen. Bobby-san is my king, and I will become his queen. We want to win the game by joining hands."

Sweet Child

I’d been reading Noel Riley Fitch’s biography of Julia Child, Appetite for Life, this summer when the great lady died. Although Fitch overworks the little-girl-in-a-patriarchal-world angle and perhaps (though I’m not educated enough to know) the McCarthy angle (the Childs’ social circle in Europe was rather affected by the senator’s Commie-hunting), she eventually gets out of the way of her story. What emerges is a terrific biography of a woman who really did go about the business of living with singular gusto.

Growing up, I had only known the parody version of Julia Child, some lame-o TV cook with a bird stuck in her throat. Reading Fitch—usually on the Metro to and from work—I’ve fallen in love with the woman.

Perhaps what I admire most is that Child found a way to be a great and energetic spouse and a great professional at the same time. No little credit for her accomplishment was due to her wonderful husband, Paul Child, a very interesting guy in his own right. His love of fine food and intellectual things played an important role in spurring her to reach higher, to take an interest in politics and art, and, most importantly, to learn to cook.

Their households in Europe during the writing of Mastering the Art of French Cooking were visited by writers, foreign service types, artists, chefs. And theirs was a profoundly loving marriage in which both improved the other, proof that two can be so much more than one plus one. Oh, to have been a guest at their table.

The Food Network is, appropriately, doing a tribute to Julia Child Sunday night (8/22) from 7 to 10 EST.

Worst Commercial Ever?

What is the most repulsive commercial on television right now? It's not Viagra, Levitra, Cialis, or any other drug that treats erectile dysfunction. It's not those ads for feminine hygiene and bladder control. It's not Gas-X or the attractive women who admit they too suffer from constipation. Without doubt, the most disturbing advertisement on air is Digger the Dermatophyte. Resembling a demon from Hell, Digger (a computer animation) explains that he lives "deep under your infected nails." Don't believe him? Standing next to a big toe, Digger explains how he causes the nail to look so jaundiced, its edges so jagged. And yes, you get a good look at this probably while you are settling down, about to eat. But it gets worse.

Digger actually lifts off the toe nail, exposing the dark red interior. And then he magically jumps in. Next thing you know, he and his cohorts are whirling around, creating that fungus infection--that is, until a giant tablet of Lamisil comes rolling in, knocking Digger silly, until, at long last, the nail is looking healthy once again. A step-by-step demonstration of this can be seen on Lamisil's website if you dare.

Lifting off of toe nails or scenes from Girls Gone Wild? Which would you rather see at dinner?

All Hail The Khorkina!

Last go-around at the Olympics, the star was Svetlana Khorkina. In Salon, Gary Kamiya praised her "first-we-make-love, then-I-kill-you, then-I kill-myself" antics and Cintra Wilson got a column out of her that was, even on the Cintra Scale, particularly brilliant. By the end of the 2000 games, my friend Alex and I simply referred to her as The Khorkina.

She's back! You may have missed it, with all the attention on the Americans. And you might not recognize her at first, now that she's abandoned her pixie cut and has long hair. But you can't mistake her glare. Neither man nor beast may resist The Khorkina. Bow down my friends, and submit.

Today NBC has a puff piece on her. If you hate the way the Olympics have been Couricized, then you'll come to treasure The Khorkina, because even NBC can't sand down her rough edges. She says of her rivals:

"These little girls don't have my experience, my maturity and my pleasure to the public."

To be honest, I'm not even sure what that means. But somewhere at Smith, a women's studies major just found her thesis topic.
A reader in talkback noticed this interesting BBC article on how hard it is for soldiers to kill. It doesn't go as in depth as Dan Baum, but it's still pretty good.
No one is paying enough attention to Venezuela, but Thor Halvorssen is on the ground down there and has a report. His mother was just shot by a group of Hugo Chávez's supporters.

Thor has been covering the Chávez regime for a while and has reported on some truly horrifying stuff, like the torture of Jesus Soriano. It makes you wonder how some Americans--both Democrats and some Republicans, like Jack Kemp--can offer Chávez cover.

I suppose it's possible that Chávez really does have popular support (although I doubt it), but that isn't entirely comforting. As George Will noted yesterday, government that is "all sail and no anchor" often leads to trouble. Democracies produced both Napoleon and Franco.

Suck-Up Watch

My boss catches Kerry in a pretty bad flip-flop on troop deployment.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

The Bush twins may be attending a gay wedding. I've long suspected that opposing gay marriage is a losing fight. Forget the rights or wrongs of it--the train is moving down the track and it's not clear to me that there's any way of stopping it.

Part of the reason for this is that the best arguments against gay marriage are explicitly religious. Another reason is that the equality aspect of the pro-gay marriage arguments are fairly powerful (at least on their face). But the biggest reason is this: Rising generations are going to inhabit radically different positions of gay marriage than their parents and grandparents did. Opposition to gay marriage has crested, and is only going to erode over time as Gen-Y begins filling the demographic ocean.

As far as I can tell, the question conservatives should be asking themselves isn't "Can gay marriage be stopped?" The real question is: Are religious groups that oppose gay marriage going to be allowed to keep doing so 20 years from now?

It seems possible that down the road the Catholic church is going to have its tax-exempt status put in jeopardy because they'll refuse to marry people of the same sex.

If I were a conservative committed to defending traditional marriage, I wouldn't be caught up in the fight against gay marriage--I'd be quitely setting up a defensive perimeter so that down the line religious groups won't be compelled to buy into gay marraige by a broader secular society which will almost certainly see it as the norm.
The most important line of this story: "Some political watchers said McGreevey was planning to leave early but delayed making the announcement to round up pledges for his legal fees."

The mayor of Belmar, New Jersey (not to be confused with Belmawr!) tosses that suggestion aside, saying, "That's crazy. People will contribute to McGreevey's legal fees because they like him. To dangle that as a carrot, or think people will withhold that if he doesn't go along with what they want, smells of the worst of Jersey boss politics."

Oh, so all the Democrats and Republicans calling on him to resign immediately really, really like him. You know, deep down. Also, these FBI investigations surrounding McGreevey's administration--that's not evidence of the worst Jersey boss politics.

It's the BEST Jersey boss politics!

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

"A High-IQ Put-Down Artist"

That's how Michael Nora describes my friend Matt Labash in a recent New York Press interview. That doesn't seem quite fair. Or even a little bit fair. Labash is funny, unpredictable, and smarter than anyone ever gives him credit for being. Also, he can write.

Oh, and one more thing: That's Matt Labash, not "Matt LaBash."

Still, the interview is worth a read.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Vote Kerry! In recent weeks downtown Washington (and parts of suburban Virginia) have been clotted with young DNC volunteers. They stand on street corners in red t-shirts with clipboards asking every passer-by, "Want to help beat Bush?"

I've always politely declined. I'm happy to sign petitions to get someone on the ballot (I did so in Virginia for Wes Clark), but being asked to help "beat Bush" seemed a little off-putting. Plus, the volunteers were slightly annoying: If I had to walk, say, from my office to the ATM to Au Bon Pain and back, I'd get hit up 3 times in the span of 15 minutes. You know, in most cities, they have laws saying that pan-handlers can only ask once.

But yesterday there was a change: The begging DNC volunteers asked, "Would you like to help elect John Kerry?"

Paging Mickey Kaus . . .

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Today's Washington Post carries a story on the police in Falls Church, Va. The cops there have strict quotas. They have to make three arrests or give out three tickets per day. If they don't, they're automatically put on probation. Over time, cops who don't meet their quotas can get fired.

Obviously, this is pure revenue generation on the part of the city.

But leaving aside the pedestrian concerns which arise from handing your police quotas, there are two overarching problems:

(1) The quota system drastically undermines respect for the law. Which over time, will result in more crime.

(2) The quota system means that, as a statistical matter, crime in Falls Church can never decrease.

Crazy people on the left often insist that the United States manufactures foreign enemies to feed demand for the military industrial complex. (Paging Dr. Caldicott!) But in this case, that's exactly what could happen. If criminal acts in Falls Church dropped precipitously because of, say, a particularly effective police chief, no one would know, because the police officers on the street would have to keep making arrests and handing out tickets. The geniuses at Falls Church City Hall have required their police to keep crime at a consistent level.

Saturday, August 07, 2004

Fantastic Dan Baum article in last week's New Yorker, The Price of Valor. Did you know that in World War II only 15 percent of soldiers could bring themselves to fire back on the enemy? After the war, the Army instituted a "Revised Program of Instruction" to get this percentage up. By Vietnam, 90 percent of U.S. soldiers were shooting back. Amazing stuff.