Thursday, December 23, 2004

Like a laser beam

Since the attack of 9/11, we've won two wars, liberated millions of people from monstrous regimes, presided over one election in Afghanistan, and are about to see elections in Iraq and among the Palestinian people. Focusing like a laser beam on the big picture, liberals are upset that, during this period, the secretary of defense used an autopen.

Yes, Virginia

The famous unsigned (but written by Francis Pharcellus Church) editorial from the Sept. 21, 1897 edition of the New York Sun is here in the original and here in reprint. In hope that it is in the public domain, and at the risk of being trite, I reprint it here:
Is There a Santa Claus?

We take pleasure in answering at once and thus prominently the communcation below, expressing at the same time our great gratification that its faithful author is numbered among friends of THE SUN:

"DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old.
"Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.
"Papa says, 'If you see it in THE SUN it's so.'
"Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?


VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except [what] they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measure by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! How dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest man that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding. No Santa Claus! Thank GOD! He lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.


I'll be on the road and not blogging much from now through New Year's Day.

The 1972 gold medal basketball game revisited?

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Criteria for success

William Safire lists three "criteria to measure success or failure in the battle for democracy in the [Middle East/Iraq] region and the struggles for freedom around the world."

Update: A reader sends "Is it Worth it?," an article by JINSA addressing similar issues.

"The press as you know it has ceased to exist"

Jonah Goldberg points to an eight-minute review of recent media history, looking back from 2014.

Quote of the day

If I were a dyslexic atheist I’d say I don’t have a god in this fight.
(Link via Instapundit.)

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

One of those people who make the rest of us feel insufficient

I occasionally read The Volokh Conspiracy, Eugene Volokh's blog, especially when Instapundit links there.

I knew Volokh was a UCLA law professor. What I didn't know was the rest of his story. Some highlights:

  • Age 7: Emigrated from Kiev, USSR, to the US.
  • Age 12: Started work as computer programmer.
  • Age 12: Enrolled as freshman at UCLA, while still working as computer programmer in afternoons.
  • Age 15: Graduated from UCLA with BS in math and computer science.
  • Current job #1: Professor of law at UCLA Law School.
  • Current job #2: Partner in software company which sells HP 3000 software which he wrote.
  • Former job #1: Computer programmer, for 12 years.
  • Former job #2: Clerk a judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
  • Former job #3: Clerk for a justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.
  • Publishing history (in addition to his blog which receives over 10,000 unique daily visitors): Many publications (I lost count at one hundred sixty-something) ranging from law review articles and Senate testimony to Wall Street Journal op-eds and a textbook on academic legal writing.
  • Current age: 36.


Go read David Brooks' column

He writes about "this sudden moment of cautious optimism in the Middle East" and how we got there. Leftist naysayers don't come out looking too good.

Allies to admire

Which allies do the self-annointed State Department Republican Underground most admire and appreciate?

Here is the list from the Diplomad:

  • UK
  • Australia
  • Israel
  • Japan
  • Denmark
  • Singapore
  • Turkey
  • Poland
  • Italy
  • The Baltics Three
  • Spain's Jose Maria Aznar

Honorable mention:

  • South Korea
  • Other former Eastern Bloc countries
  • Mexico under President Fox
  • The Latin American countries that deployed to OIF
  • Ukraine, if it elects Yuschenko
Details and explanations are available here.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Crushing of dissent

Yesterday the Nashville police arrested Nels Noseworthy, mild-mannered ad salesman for the Nashville Scene, for allegedly selling ads promoting prostitution. But the timing of the arrest casts doubt on the motives of the police.

Noseworthy's arrest Thursday came one day after the current issue of the Scene hit the streets. And that issue contains a cartoon mocking the Nashville chief of police's son. The cartoon shows a man carelessly drinking and driving while under pursuit by several police cars:

As the accompanying text indicates, Dustin Serpas, son of Nashville police chief Ronal Serpas, has been arrested twice this year for drinking and driving and has surrendered his license.

And so a day after the Scene publishes a cartoon mocking the chief of police's son, the police arrest a Scene employee.

Instapundit's Glenn Reynolds called the arrest a crushing of dissent, apparently tongue in cheek. But his characterization may have been more accurate than he realized.

Note: The Scene acknowledges that the police have been engaged in an ongoing crackdown on prostitution in Nashville, but the timing of this arrest still stinks.

Bleg re troop-supporting charities

One of our year-end charitable contributions will be to a charity supporting the troops. Three of the likely candidates follow.
  • Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society:
    The mission of the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society is to provide, in partnership with the Navy and Marine Corps, financial, educational, and other assistance to members of the Naval Services of the United States, eligible family members, and survivors when in need; and to receive and manage funds to administer these programs.
  • The Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund:
    The Fund provides unrestricted grants to the families of military personnel who have given their lives in the current operations in defense of our country. The gifts, $10,000 to each dependent family and an additional $5,000 per child, are intended to help these families through any immediate or long-term financial difficulties they may face. This gift is made quietly and without fanfare, to protect the privacy of the families. Our goal is to support them in their time of need, and to ensure that they know that our nation appreciates the sacrifice they have made for us.
  • Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund:
    On May 18, 2004, a small group of concerned Marine Corps spouses founded the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund to provide financial grants and other assistance to the Marines, sailors, and families of those injured serving our nation. In the summer of 2004, General Alfred Gray, the 29th Commandant of the Marine Corps, two retired general officers, and a retired sergeant major joined them. In their first five months, the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund provided financial assistance to over 300 families with more than $400,000.
Do any readers have recommendations or experience with any of these charities? Please comment below or send me a message.

Israel, antisemitism and the U.N.

Anne Bayefsky writes,
For the past four decades the United Nations has become the personal propaganda machine of the nom de guerre of Arab and Islamic states — Palestinians. Their aim is to demonize, debilitate, and destroy the state of Israel — the thriving democratic beachhead in their midst — for a start. The original U.N. mission, to protect the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, has been hijacked and corrupted by nations that neither share the universal values of the U.N.'s Declaration of Human Rights nor have democratic intentions.
For those who doubt this proposition, Bayefsky cites evidence in "Undiplomatic Imbalance: The antisemitism at the U.N. is a problem for more than just Israel" in National Review.

For yet more convincing evidence read Steve Shamrak's Why Israel is Suspicious of the United Nations.

My prior post on Bayefsky and her work is here.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Quote of the day

Radio host Don Imus commenting on Maureen Dowd this morning:
Her column today made your hair hurt, it was so tedious.
What makes this all the more amusing is that Imus is a fan of Dowd. She is a recurring guest on his show, he frequently praises her writing, and he listed her book as one of the ten best of 2004.

Here is the Dowd column in question.

(Note: The Imus quotation above is written from memory and may be inexact. But if it's off, it's not off by much.)

Update: The Anchoress writes a rather more emotional critique of an earlier Dowd column about Christmas. As Captain's Quarters comments, "Read the whole thing, and then go hug your family."

What is a loya jirga?

For those who read David Brooks' latest column and were wondering what a loya jirga is, wonder no more.

From the BBC:
What is a loya jirga?

It is a forum unique to Afghanistan in which, traditionally, tribal elders - Pashtuns, Tajiks, Hazaras and Uzbeks - have come together to settle affairs of the nation or rally behind a cause.

The phrase loya jirga is Pashto and means "grand council." The institution, which is centuries old, is a similar idea to the Islamic "shura", or consultative assembly.

Historically it has been used to settle inter-tribal disputes, discuss social reforms and approve a new constitution. Hundreds of men wearing turbans, Persian lamb hats or embroidered quilt coats would pack into a vast hall. Long debates would take place in Pashto and Dari, with the inclusion of the occasional Koranic quote in Arabic.

Speaking of year-end awards

Here is a blog scoop (bloop?) on the Time Man of the Year.

The worst of the media, 2004

The Media Research Center's Seventeenth Annual Awards for the Year’s Worst Reporting are up.

So is Accuracy in Media's list of the most underreported/buried stories of 2004.


Harvard grammar gripe

This snippet comes from a document entitled "Supplemental Style Sheet for Social Sciences" on the Harvard University web site:
Or, better yet, use what native English speakers have been using for hundreds of years: "they" or "their" as the singular generic pronoun. For example, "Everyone should put on their coats."

The sentence sounds right and the meaning is clear. Prescriptive grammarians tend to get upset at the use of "they" and “their” as singular pronouns, but they conveniently manage to overlook the fact that "you" and "your" are used as both singular and plural pronouns all the time.
Arg. "Everyone should put on their coats" certainly does not sound right to this native English speaker.

"Everyone" is singular, "their" is plural, and ne'er the twain shall agree. The fact that "you" can be singular or plural is not relevant.

Indeed, "Everyone should put on his coat" is unnecessarily masculine, and "Everyone should put on his or her coat" sounds awkward; but I prefer either of these to the ungrammatical "Everyone should put on their coats" which Harvard's style sheet endorses. Better yet, avoid the issue altogether: "People should all put on their coats."

(Note that the "Supplemental Style Sheet for Social Sciences" is on the Harvard web site of lecturer Don Ostrowski. I do not know if it applies to Harvard social science students generally or Ostrowski's students specifically.)

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Beautiful new bridge in France

The Millau Viaduct:

Jean-Philippe Arles/Reuters

Ann Althouse calls it,
One of the most marvelous things human beings have ever built.
According to Reuters (via the New York Times), at 885 feet above the Tarn River Valley (heretofore known for Roquefort cheese) in southern France, it is the world's tallest bridge. It will open to traffic Friday at midnight. (Question to self: Does that mean cars can drive over it during the day Friday?)

The architect--Englishman Norman Foster--is rather accomplished.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

The system scares a qualified judge away. The media yawn. So do bloggers.

Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Charles Pickering said in a statement last week,

The bitter fight over judicial confirmations threatens the quality and the independence of the judiciary. The mean-spiritedness and lack of civility reduces the pool of nominees willing to offer themselves for service on the bench.

The prime exhibit offered in support of Pickering's statement was Pickering himself, who announced that he would retire from the bench rather than subject himself to another Senate hearing.

Interesting that Pickering's announcement has received so little media attention.

As you may recall when Pickering was nominated for the bench, liberals launched a campaign against him based on supposed racial insensitivity. The Washington Post reviewed the case against Pickering in a May 27, 2003 front page article. Earlier the New York Times (yes, that New York Times), in a Feb. 17, 2002 article entitled "Blacks at Home Support a Judge Liberals Assail," had debunked liberals' charges against Pickering.

After Democrats blocked Pickering's nomination from coming to a vote, Bush elevated Pickering to the bench in a recess appointment widely criticized at the time by liberal media outlets and Democratic candidates alike.

Now that the recess appointment is coming to an end, Pickering is opting to retire rather than go through hearings again. The bench is losing a good man, and nobody seems to be taking notice: neither the mainstream media opinion writers nor the blogosphere.

The system has stopped a good judge from serving and will discourage others. Bloggers and other readers, where is the outrage? Taranto? Reynolds?

Update: Here is the text of Pickering's statement.

Another reason to shop at Amazon.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Common sense medical blogger

Pseudonymous physician "Sydney Smith" makes the common-sense observation that if rising medical costs are driven mainly by an aging population and costly technology, then the likely result of capping insurance premiums is to drive health insurers out of business (or, I might add, out of state). However, not all California legislators agree with her.

I am adding Dr. Smith's MedPundit blog to my blogroll. Other medical blogs I've seen either do not address policy matters or tend to diverge from my point of view when they do.

Anyone have suggestions of other medical blogs I should be reading?

(I discovered MedPundit via two Newmarks who point to a post on the unintended consequences of malpractice suits.)

Nutella blogging

Michelle Malkin is bringing long neglected Nutella blogging into its own. A highlight:

Here in the States, it's not the Nutella that defines your politics. It's how you eat it:

  • On a rice cake: Left.
  • On Wonder bread: Right.
  • With fruit: Left.
  • With potato chips. Right.
  • On a crostini: Left.
  • Straight out of the jar: Just right.
But Malkin neglects to mention the two Nutella discussion topics chez David M:
  • Did you notice Kobe Bryant's picture mysteriously falling off the Nutella label round about the time the rape charges surfaced?
  • And what was Kobe doing as a Nutella's American posterboy in the first place? The demographics just didn't seem quite right.

19th-century writer and anti-smoking activist

An obscure posting of little interest (unless, that is, your name is John Derbyshire). All others are instructed please to go to my main blog, and scroll past this entry immediately.

In answer to Mr. Derbyshire's bleg, it appears that J.F. Neal and John Neal are likely indeed to be one and the same.

All Mr. Derbyshire needed to do was consult the website of the Waterboro (Maine) Public Library. (Wouldn't that have been your first research stop?)

Apparently John Neal (Aug. 23, 1793 - Jun. 20, 1876) was an American writer and author of many works including Brother John. He spent 1823-27 in England where he wrote a series of columns for Blackwood's Magazine, which work was "considered the first effort to chronicle and explain American literature and was reprinted as American Writers in 1937. "

Mr. Neal also taught boxing at Bowdoin College. No word on his middle initial, or his passion for language learning. But he was "known as an editor, architect, lawyer, historian, and women's rights advocate" in addition to being an advocate for minority rights.

Perhaps the most endearing Neal story (to me anyway), is that he,
at 79 years old, is noted for throwing a defiant cigar-smoking passenger off a street car.

Another reason I am glad I left Manhattan

Steven Menashi writes,
Galleries from Chelsea to Madison Avenue are stuffed with anti-Bush exhibits.
I couldn't make it through the article--a recitation of the various exhibits interspersed with artists' statements--without quitting in disgust. I can just imagine trying to make it through the galleries.

My stint as research assistant to an unwitting Jonah Goldberg

Tracking down a transcript from NBC News

Several weeks ago National Review's Jonah Goldberg posted a bleg requesting the transcript of an NBC Nightly News segment on the Ukraine.

Since I knew from experience that MSNBC posted transcripts of shows like Scarborough, I searched the (MS)NBC website, but I came up short. I e-mailed the the Nightly News ( and received a polite reply referrring me to a wire service story on the topic posted on

I e-mailed back that I really wanted a transcript of the Nightly News segment. (Meanwhile Jonah announced that he no longer needed the transcript, so I lost interest.)

Fast forward to today, about three weeks after my initial requests. NBC e-mailed me the transcript in question. (At least I think it is the transcript in question. It arrived without any reference either to the date of the broadcast or to my request.)

And so without further ado, Jonah, here is the month-late transcript of the Ukraine segment, presumably from the NBC Nightly News of November 23, 2004:

TOM BROKAW, anchor:

Now, to an escalating political crisis involving a presidential election, a disputed vote count, charges of fraud and a country divided. Sound familiar? It's not happening here but rather half a world away in the Ukraine. And what's at stake is the survival or the defeat of old Soviet-style politics. Here's NBC's Jim Maceda.

JIM MACEDA reporting:

Hundreds of thousands of pro-democracy Ukrainians in the streets today protested against the results of the presidential election, pitting their candidate, the West-leaning challenger, Viktor Yushchenko against the pro-Moscow prime minister, Viktor Yanukovych. They claim Yanukovych's victory was rigged, with reports of ballot stuffing and voter intimidation.

Unidentified Man: This country deserves fair political process and this country deserve democracy. And it's on the verge of it.

MACEDA: Today, Yushchenko called for civil disorder. He marched on Parliament and even took the oath of office, challenging the government to take it away. On Monday, the authoritarian Yanukovych was declared the winner with a 3 percentage-point lead. In a TV appearance, he warned his opponent to accept defeat. But international observers, including the US Representative Senator Richard Lugar, called the election fraudulent.

Senator RICHARD LUGAR: A concerted and forceful program of election day fraud and abuse was enacted with either the leadership or cooperation of governmental authorities.

MACEDA: Experts say the former Soviet Republic is at a crossroads. Either it moves toward NATO and a market economy with Yushchenko, who gets most of his support from the young, more European voters in Ukraine's west, or it keeps the status quo, under Russia's heavy wing, the option favored by older, pro-Russian voters in the East, and by Russian President Vladimir Putin himself, who even campaigned for Yanukovych. With riot police out in force tonight, Yushchenko led a march to the presidential palace, calling on the government to listen to the will of the people.

Mr. MARTIN McCAULEY (Russia Analyst): Yushchenko will not give up. He will declare himself the legitimate president, and this dual power will continue until it is resolved, one way or the other.

MACEDA: The government has called for talks, but with the country split in half, this crisis could still turn violent. Jim Maceda, NBC News, London.

Update: Thanks for the link, Jonah.

Miracle begets yawn

Andrew Hofer points out "The Afghan Miracle: Why isn't this stunning U.S. success appreciated?," Charles Krauthammer's latest column.

How is the remarkable feat of democratic elections in Afghanistan covered? By focusing on the poppy trade. Krauthammer comments,
Good grief. This is news? "Afghanistan grows poppies" is the sun rising in the east. "Afghanistan inaugurates democratically elected president" is the sun rising in the west. Afghanistan has always grown poppies.
There's more:

What has happened in Afghanistan is nothing short of a miracle. Who is responsible for it? The New York Times gives the major credit to "the Afghan people" with their "courage and commitment." Courage and commitment there was, but the courage and commitment were curiously imperceptible until this administration conceived a radical war plan, executed it brilliantly, liberated the country and created from scratch the structures of democracy.

Saturday, December 11, 2004


I sometimes overcome my distaste for Maureen Dowd's shrill partisanship and read her column anyway because, well, she is sometimes clever.

But I find her efforts in tomorrow's paper pathetic. Like an untalented high schooler's lame attempt to be cute for the school literary magazine.

A snippet:
On the first day of Christmas,
my Rummy sent to me
a Saddam pigeon in a palm tree.
Not knowing Osama's address,
Rummy hastened to 'Potamia - and a mess,
exhorting his pal Cheney,
"Let's bomb Baghdad again, golly gee!"

Trust markets?

David Brooks on Social Security reform:
It's about the market. People who instinctively trust the markets support the Bush reform ideas, and people who are suspicious oppose them.

That must be why the mainstream media love Bush so much today

Nicholas Kristof today:
I've seen firsthand how Mr. Bush can turn on the charm when he needs to. In his 2000 campaign, Mr. Bush started off so high in the polls that he was contemptuous of journalists, treating us like French presidents. Then he got walloped in the New Hampshire primary, and all of a sudden he began charming the socks off reporters. It's time to try the same trick with six billion foreigners.

Bernard Kerik

Tony Iovino comments on the withdrawal of Bernard Kerik's Homeland Security nomination:
Finally, is Bernard Kerik the best person for this job, or not? This is about the safety of the country. If there is somebody more capable, then he or she should have gotten the nod. If there are other people, equally qualified, and "stain free," then fine. But if not, have Kerik apologize, pay a fine, pay some employer taxes, and let him work on closing the borders so that others like him don't have illegal aliens to exploit in the future.
Seems right to me. Pity that precedent and political climate render Iovino's proposal an impossibility.

Of horse blood and human bones

I suppose it should not surprise me that the creator of this somewhat distasteful [somewhat!? -ed.] cartoon in the Guardian proudly writes, in apparent tribute to his deceased father,
I created a little Hirstian installation in the room where I work, with the bottles [of horse blood] flanked by the human bones.

(Cartoon link via Andrew Sullivan.)

More blog plagiarism (blogiarism?)

On the one hand, I am flattered whenever someone links to this blog. Should I be less flattered if the linker is seemingly a plagiarist?

For example, when the blog of Jim Lago's show--"Lago in the Morning" on radio 1440 KEYS--linked to my recent post, "Academic bias in the news," I was happy that it brought me a few hits. (I don't know if Lago or someone on his staff writes the blog.)

Here was the Lago post (scroll down to Dec. 10, 2004 top stories):
Liberal Bias - Two three-part series on liberal bias in academia were published this week, one in the New York Sun and the other in

On Wednesday, the Sun ran three op-eds in a series entitled "Campus Crisis":

I was also pleased that the link went to my blog instead of directly to the media pieces under discussion.

But when I looked at the the posts on Lago's site immediately above and below the "Liberal Bias," post they had a familiar ring. Seems Betsy Newmark had covered all the topics, too.

Here are some ways this sampling of Lagos's work violates blog etiquette (in descending order of significance):
  • In some instances the Lago blog copies Betsy's work verbatim without acknowledgement or even so much as a link (as in the Prowler piece below).
  • In some instances, the Lago blog uses Betsy's ideas, but with different words, without acknowledgment (as in the piece on Bush and the Democrats below).
  • The Lago blog uses links seemingly derived straight from Betsy without acknowledgement (as in every piece below).
What are some of the things the Lago blog does right in this sampling of his work?
  • It shows good taste in blogs when choosing Betsy's Page to rip off.
  • It links to me--a clear sign of taste and erudition.
  • It sometimes shows evidence that the writer actually read the linked pieces.
Here is the segment in question from the Lago site (again, scroll down to Dec. 10, 2004 top stories):

Democracy - John Podhoretz how well democracy works in the United States.

ONLY 38 days ago, the most passion ately contested presidential election in modern history was finally conducted. And yet, doesn't it seem that a very, very long time has passed since Nov. 2? On the Right, political Web sites are registering sharp drops in traffic and reader involvement, to judge by the dramatic reduction in the numbers of those who leave comments there. On the Left, the effort by leftist Democrats to create a spurious vote-counting scandal in the state of Ohio has fallen totally flat, despite having been taken up by the usual tiresome subjects.

(And speaking of those usual tiresome subjects, isn't it time for Jesse Jackson to start appearing on the "Hollywood Squares" or something? Maybe he can appear during "Has-Been Celebrities with Illegitimate Kids Week.")

Only 38 days ago, people everywhere in this country were jumping out of their skins with excitement, worry, fear, rage, hatred and enthusiasm. And then Bush won and, except for a few diehards, we're moving on. The same thing happened in 2000. It works in our country.

A fight was waged, and it was concluded. The pressure built up to a nearly intolerable level and the election released it. It's the glory of our system, and maybe 52 days from now the Iraqi people will experience some of the same relief after they go to the polls for the first time as a free nation.

Liberal Bias - Two three-part series on liberal bias in academia were published this week, one in the New York Sun and the other in

On Wednesday, the Sun ran three op-eds in a series entitled "Campus Crisis":


President reaches out - President Bush is quietly seeking support from a growing number of congressional Democrats who would rather work with him than fight him on issues such as Social Security reform.

How long will this be remembered?

Like a Rolling Stone -
William Tucker So how does "Like A Rolling Stone" emerge as the Greatest Hit of All Time? Because it is a landmark to Sixties-bred radicals who like to think of American history as "Things That Happened To Us." "Like a Rolling Stone" still marks that first joyous 1965 uniting of protest songs and electric guitars. It was a political event, not a musical moment.

The greatest rock 'n' roll song of all time? For generating great music, Dylan couldn't even tune Elvis's guitar.

Whitehouse Misdirection? - The Prowler notes that the Bush team was able to get what they wanted for the Patriot Act into the Intelligence bill. And the Democrats can't complain because they didn't even seem to notice it.

And here are the snippets from Betsy's Page on Dec. 9 and 10 on which the Lago posts appear to be based:

John Podhoretz notes how well democracy works in the United States.
ONLY 38 days ago, the most passion ately contested presidential election in modern history was finally conducted. And yet, doesn't it seem that a very, very long time has passed since Nov. 2?
On the Right, political Web sites are registering sharp drops in traffic and reader involvement, to judge by the dramatic reduction in the numbers of those who leave comments there. On the Left, the effort by leftist Democrats to create a spurious vote-counting scandal in the state of Ohio has fallen totally flat, despite having been taken up by the usual tiresome subjects.

(And speaking of those usual tiresome subjects, isn't it time for Jesse Jackson to start appearing on the "Hollywood Squares" or something? Maybe he can appear during "Has-Been Celebrities with Illegitimate Kids Week.")

Only 38 days ago, people everywhere in this country were jumping out of their skins with excitement, worry, fear, rage, hatred and enthusiasm.
And then Bush won and, except for a few diehards, we're moving on. The same thing happened in 2000. It works in our country.
A fight was waged, and it was concluded. The pressure built up to a nearly intolerable level and the election released it. It's the glory of our system, and maybe 52 days from now the Iraqi people will experience some of the same relief after they go to the polls for the first time as a free nation.
David M. has a roundup of all the stories on ideological bias on campus that have appeared in the past week.
Bookmark this article about how Bush has reached out and started working with Democrats. Since it will all be forgotten soon.
William Tucker ponders why Rolling Stone Magazine picked Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone" as the greatest rock song of all time.
So how does "Like A Rolling Stone" emerge as the Greatest Hit of All Time? Because it is a landmark to Sixties-bred radicals who like to think of American history as "Things That Happened To Us." "Like a Rolling Stone" still marks that first joyous 1965 uniting of protest songs and electric guitars. It was a political event, not a musical moment.

The greatest rock 'n' roll song of all time? For generating great music, Dylan couldn't even tune Elvis's guitar.
The Prowler notes that the Bush team was able to get what they wanted for the Patriot Act into the Intelligence bill. And the Democrats can't complain because they didn't even seem to notice it...
In fairness, I have not read any other parts of Lago's web page, so I do not know how widespread the problem is, or if it is a brief slip-up. I also do not know if Lago writes the web site or if a staffer does.

The transgressions in the Lago blog do not seem rise to the level of the last blog plagiarist I uncovered. (The last guy was routinely lifting entire posts verbatim from Betsy and others without acknowledgement while doing little or no original work.) But just the same it would be good to put an end to it.

Interestingly, there seems to be a developing trend among blog plagiarists (blogiarists?) to rely on Betsy's Page. Perhaps it's because Betsy does such fine work but does not (yet) have the readership or name recognition of Reynolds or Sullivan.

Liberal bias in academia? Blame the Republicans. (But of course!)

Jonathan Chait (writing in the LA Times) blames the Republicans for liberal bias in academia:
A few weeks ago, a pair of studies found that Democrats vastly outnumbered Republicans among professors at leading universities. Conservatives gleefully seized upon this to once again flagellate academia for its liberal bias.

Am I the only person who fails to understand why conservatives see this finding as vindication? After all, these studies show that some of the best-educated, most-informed people in the country overwhelmingly reject the GOP. Why is this seen as an indictment of academia, rather than as an indictment of the Republican Party?
Professor Stephen Bainbridge dissents:
In sum, Chait reveals himself to be woefully ignorant of both the academy and conservatives.
(Via Patterico.)

Note: For more points of view on liberalism in academia, see this post (below) or simply scroll down.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Hillary in the crossfire

Republicans and Democrats are watching Hillary Clinton pretty herself up for 2008. It may surprise you who is more impressed with her efforts.

  • From the right. Peggy Noonan writes in yesterday's Wall Street Journal: "Where Are They Now? Four years after leaving the White House, Hillary Clinton plots her return":
    She is taking care of her liberal base while cherry-picking key issues on which she can get to the right of the Republican party. This is most astute and quite effective.
  • From the left. John Richard Starkey writes in yesterday's Newsday: "Hillary, you've got some 'fessing up to do":
    Senator..., We see you as a female equivalent of John Kerry, taking safe, centrist positions in general and, most glaringly, a wimpy stance on the war in Iraq.

Bush and the Democrats

President Bush won more votes than in 2000, won a higher percentage of the votes, and picked up seats to solidify further the Republican majorities in the House and Senate. Then he reshuffled his cabinet to render it more in synch with his outlook on the world.

So naturally he proceeded by bulldogging ahead, pushing his policies and ignoring the Democrats. Right? Well, actually not quite:
"President reaches out to willing Democrats"
(Via Betsy Newmark.)

Academic bias in the news

Source: The Economist

Two three-part series on liberal bias in academia were published this week, one in the New York Sun and the other in

On Wednesday, the Sun ran three op-eds in a series entitled "Campus Crisis":

  • "A New Free Speech Movement, Starting With Alumni" by Ronald S. Lauder:
    It's fine to donate money to your college. I can think of no better institutions in our country to be the recipients of your philanthropy. But get to know your alumni association, follow the news at your college, do your homework, and don't be afraid to ask questions. The next time you fill out that check, make sure your money is designated to some place or someone whose viewpoints wouldn't make you cringe.
  • "Wanted: Intellectual Diversity" by Bruce Bartlett:
    Although conservatives complain loudly and often about liberal bias in the mass media, the truth is that one is far more likely to read a conservative perspective in the New York Times than hear it from a college professor. At least the Times publishes an occasional conservative on its op-ed page. At many universities, just finding a Republican anywhere on the faculty is problematic.
  • "Higher Education In Decline" by Walter E. Williams:
    In a study to be published in Academic Questions, sociologist Charlotta Stern and economist Daniel Klein found in a random national sample of 1,678 university professors that Democratic professors outnumber Republican professors 3 to 1 in economics, 28 to 1 in sociology, and 30 to 1 in anthropology. As George Will said in his Washington Post column, "Academia, Stuck to the Left" (November 28, 2004): "Many campuses are intellectual versions of one-party nations."
Also this week, published a three-part series by Daniel Flynn on academic bias:
  • Part I: "Deep Blue Campuses" builds on my earlier piece showing the lopsided campaign contributions from employees of top universities:
    Of the Kerry campaign’s top twenty contributors, five were universities – the University of California, Harvard, Stanford, Columbia, and the University of Michigan. By way of comparison, not one of the twenty institutions listed as employing the most generous donors to the Bush campaign was a college or university.

    Harvard employees donated 97 percent of their presidential campaign contributions to John Kerry, and just 3 percent to George W. Bush.
  • Part II: "Academia Embraces Terrorists":
    There is something hilariously self-refuting in violent revolutionaries, who preach the evils of intolerant America, getting bankrolled by leading American schools. But to make the point that America isn’t the intolerant incubator of hatred they make it out to be, wouldn’t it be enough for us just to let these jailbird intellectuals speak freely without the imprimatur of leading academic institutions, the subsidy of unwitting alumni, or the command of impressionable students?
  • Part III: "Academic Snobs Ban the Military":
    More than a generation ago, academics cited the Vietnam War as the justification for kicking ROTC and military recruiters off campus. Today, the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy excluding open homosexuals from serving in the armed forces serves as the pretext. The explanations have changed, but the underlying reason remains the same: academic snobs hate the military.

These six articles come in the wake of related columns by Ruth Wisse in the Wall Street Journal ("John Kerry U: At Harvard, a few of us stray from the 'herd of independent minds' ") and George Will ("Academia, Stuck To the Left"). The key finding in these articles--that academia tilts left-- is not surprising to anyone who has been paying attention; the magnitude of the tilt is, however, shocking. (If you're not convinced, spend a few minutes reading the articles linked above.)

The best we can hope for is that conventional wisdom begins to recognize that academia has a major problem on its hands. Recognition of the problem is the first necessary step towards its resolution. Unfortunately, the people inclined to read opinion pieces in the New York Sun, NewsMax and the Wall Street Journal are not the ones who need convincing.

Update (via Chris Lawrence and Robert Prather): There's more. Jeff Jacoby wrote "A left-wing monopoly on campuses" for the Dec. 2 Boston Globe, and the Wall Street Journal ran an editorial on Dec. 3 entitled "A Chill in the Classroom: Liberal professors routinely harass conservative students." The Lexington column of the Dec. 2 Economist (from which the cartoon above is taken) is entitled "America's one-party state: If you loathe political debate, join the faculty of an American university."

Update: Jonathan Chait thinks liberal bias in academia is the Republicans' fault.

Can you trust your eyes?

I found this optical illusion on Edward Tufte's web site:

(Click on image to enlarge.)

The squares marked A and B are the same shade of gray. Hard to believe.

Matter of fact, I didn't believe it; so I tested it. I pasted the picture into a graphics program and cut a piece from one square and layed it on the other. Indeed, they are the same color. But even having just done that, when I look at the original picture I still don't believe it.

Tufte explains,
Color is intensely contextual, like design elements in general.
Marvin Gaye explains,
People say believe half of what you see,
Son, and none of what you hear
But I can't help bein' confused
If it's true please tell me dear

Thursday, December 09, 2004


Michelle Malkin has a round-up of some fairly damning quotes by and about Norman Mineta.

Mineta, the cabinet's sole Democrat, is apparently sticking around for another term.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

A Jew's lament

Tony Iovino writes of a Jew's holiday lament:
You Christians have "Silent Night"; we have "Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel." You have "White Christmas"; we have "Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel." You have Hayden's "Messiah"; we have "Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel."
Until recently I shared that lament. Then I discovered this. (Make sure your speakers are on.)

(And remember, oy is just yo backwards.)

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

The time has come, the time is now

Michelle Malkin joins the growing chorus calling for Kofi Annan to step down.

But unlike the others, Ms. Malkin subtly introduces an obscure literary reference to drive her point home.

Drug price controls cost lives--Manhattan Institute

Here is the new study by the Manhattan Institute examinining the Medicare prescription drug bill and the impact of price controls. The report concludes that,

The impact of price controls on Medicare drug purchases would be significantly greater in a much shorter period of time because they are deeper and because they would affect a larger segment of the pharmaceutical market and would send a negative signal to the hundreds of biotechnology firms that as yet have no revenues and that rely upon venture capital and pharmaceutical firm investment to sustain R&D activities. In fact, our prospective analyses, while necessarily more speculative than our retrospective analyses, suggest that applying current price controls to MMA purchases would reduce present value R&D spending by a further $372 billion, costing 277 million life years in the United States because of forgone discovery of new drugs.

Monday, December 06, 2004

And I thought I was just blogging

Wow. Turns out I'm part of
a fresh and striking exemplification of Friedrich Hayek’s thesis that knowledge is widely distributed among people and that the challenge to society is to create mechanisms for pooling that knowledge.
So speaketh the latest celebrity entrants into the blogosphere. (Well, not exactly celebrities in the Derek Jeter/Madonna sense of the word. But in a geekish, blogging sort of way.)

Media bias study

Harvard Professor Robert Barro writes in the Weekly Standard that "A Measure of Media Bias," an ongoing study by by professors at UCLA and the University of Missouri, is the best objective study of media bias he has seen. Among the major findings:
[T]he liberal inclination of the mainstream media is clear.
A Harvard professor in the Weekly Standard? Someone should alert Ruth Wisse.

(Barro link via PoliPundit.)

UN Ambassador Lieberman?

According to Bill Kristol on Fox New Sunday this morning the Bush administration wants Joe Lieberman to be the US ambassador to the UN, and has allegedly contacted him for the job.
Update (Dec. 8): I discussed this possibility with a DC lobbyist. His take: "No way."

U.S. Consulate in Saudi Arabia attacked

In a bold attack, Islamic militants threw explosives at the gate of the heavily guarded U.S. consulate in Jiddah on Monday, then forced their way into the building and held civilians at gunpoint, prompting a gunbattle. Eight people, including five local staff, were killed in the three-hour assault.

The Interior Ministry said three of the five attackers were killed, with the other two wounded and in custody.

Saudi security officials initially said four Saudi officers also died, but Interior Ministry spokesman Brig. Gen. Mansour al-Turki later told The Associated Press that no officers were killed. He said one was seriously injured.

No Americans were killed or held at gunpoint, and just one American was slightly injured as consulate employees were rushed to a safe area in the compound as the attack began, a State Department official said.

Math puzzle

What's next in this series?
I don't know the answer after puzzling with it over the weekend.

Update: After failing to figure out the answer, I resorted to a web search. The solution is here and here.

Paddling in school

I prefer the Colorado version to the Tennessee version.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

New Liberalism

Too bad that Peter Beinart's story in The New Republic, "AN ARGUMENT FOR A NEW LIBERALISM. A Fighting Faith" will get linked to and read by more conservatives than liberals.

(Hat tip: James Taranto.)

Galloway libel case

Note: See important updates at bottom of post.

Glenn Reynolds writes on MP George Galloway's libel judgment against the Telegraph:

George Galloway has won a libel judgment against the Telegraph. Apparently his support for Saddam's regime was freely given, rather than bought.

UPDATE: Actually, it's not so clear that the charges were proved false; the question seems to have been whether the Telegraph was neutral not whether it was accurate, and truth is not a defense in British libel law if I recall correctly...

If anybody knows more about the truth issues, send me a link. I've looked at several stories and none actually says the charge was disproved.
So I (in an embarrassingly transparent ploy to gain an instalanche) have done a bit of sleuthing.

It seems that the truth of the underlying allegations by the Telegraph was vigorously challenged by Galloway, but was never defended in the case by the Telegraph, [See update below.] in part because it was irrelevant to the Telegraph's case. However, based on press reports below, it seems likely that original Telegraph articles were indeed based on bogus documents. [See update below. There appears to be no evidence that the Telegraph articles were based on bogus documents.]

Here are the details:

First, according to the judge, the defense never suggested that the allegations made in the story were true, according to The Times:
It was no part of the newspaper’s case to suggest that any of the allegations were true, he [the judge] said, or even that there were reasonable grounds to suspect they were true.
Second, according to a legal analysis performed before the trial was over, the defense case was based on an aspect of law which rendered the underlying truth of the allegations irrelevant:
The defence of qualified privilege recognises that on certain occasions a person should be free to publish defamatory matter, provided he acts in good faith, even though it may prove to be false.
This is speculation on my part, but it seems that if the underlying story were true, the defense would have claimed as much.

Third, the New York Times suggests that the source documents were admitted to be forgeries (by the Christian Science Monitor, which wrote similar stories as the Telegraph):
The Christian Science Monitor published a similar reports days later, but the newspaper issued an apology in June, calling the documents forgeries. Chemical analysis of their ink revealed that the "oldest" documents, dated 1992 and 1993, were actually written at the same time as one dated 2003, The Monitor said. The Arabic text of the papers was also inconsistent with Baghdad bureaucratic writing, according to the apology.
The BBC covered the CSM case in March of this year:

The Christian Science Monitor admitted a set of documents upon which it based its story were "almost certainly" fake.

(By way of background, I am not a lawyer and have very little knowledge of the British legal system. )

Update: The CSM story was based on different documents from the Telegraph story. (Teach me to draw conclusions from stories in the New York Times.) This casts serious doubt on the reliability of the conclusion I reached above. Here (via an anonymous commenter) is a June 20, 2003 CSM story:

However, the Monitor's documents were different in many details from those of the Daily Telegraph, and came from a different source...

After examining copies of two pages of the Daily Telegraph's documents linking Galloway with the Hussein regime, [Hassan]Mneimneh [head of the Iraq Research and Documentation Project in Washington] pronounces them consistent, unlike their Monitor counterparts, with authentic Iraqi documents he has seen.

Moreover, a direct comparison of the language in the Monitor and Daily Telegraph document sets shows that they are somewhat contradictory.

Update: Scott Campbell (a.k.a. Blithering Bunny) cites evidence that:

  • The Telegraph defended the authenticity of the documents in court, and
  • The judge thought that the Telegraph witness who defended the documents "impressive and straightforward in his evidence."

More on the topic from Harry's Place, Squander Two and Andrew Sullivan.

Update: Transparent instalanche ploy successful; thanks to Instapundit for the link. Welcome, newcomers. Click here to have a look around the rest of the blog.

States' rights

An accessible argument for federalism.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Memo to Steinbrenner: this isn't what we need

How many aging superstars with eight-figure salaries will the Yankees acquire immediately after they have an MVP-caliber season?

Keith Srakocic/AP

Does the UN do more good or harm in the world?

"U.N. Panel Rejects Bush Stance on Military Action"--headline, Washington Post, Dec. 1, 2004

Greatest college course ever?

Is Colorado College's HS 202 the greatest course ever offered by a reputable college?

As one who learned to love the wilderness and paddling in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area of northern Minnesota, I am perhaps biased. But I sure wish my school had offered this course. Nine days in the Boundary Waters, for credit no less:

HS 202 1310 Paddle, Portage and Study of the Life of a Legendary Wilderness Advocate
(3 weeks in North Woods of Minnesota) cross-listed as EV 260
Fulfills one unit of the humanities requirement at Colorado College

In this wilderness class, students will study the life, writings, and philosophy of Sigurd F. Olson, perhaps the most compelling and articulate wilderness advocate of the last century. During the first week--at a remote cabin outside Ely, Minnesota--we will begin reading Olson's best-selling books and meet with scholars, environmentalists, and others who knew Olson well. The second part of the course will be a 9-day canoe trip in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Minnesota. On the trail, we will read more of Olson’s time-tested tomes, as well as an excellent biography, and we'll begin to write reflective journals of our own. Around the campfire amidst the call of the loons, we will delve deeply into Olson's philosophical musings, study his role as an environmental activist, prepare oral presentations, and try our hand at the type of nature writing which Olson himself pioneered. We will paddle and portage amongst the very lakes that Olson loved, as well as do a volunteer trail maintenance project in conjunction with the US Forest Service. No camping experience necessary.... Enrollment is limited to 7 students.

(Disclosure: I know the guy who set up the course. Even encouraged him to do so. Not that he needed any encouragement.)

Update: Apparently you can enroll in the course even if you're not a Colorado College student. Interested students should follow the link and contact the professor.