Friday, November 25, 2005


For decades I've been wanting to visit Hershey, PA to smell that city's sweet aromas. Based on this precedent in Chicago, I better get there quickly before the EPA shuts it down.

The libertarian in me grows stronger.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Aspirin, Tylenol and the FDA

Writing for the Manhattan Institute, Derek Lowe explains that neither aspirin nor Tylenol would make it through the approval process today.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Cause for optimism in Iraq

Efforts to establish a stable democracy in Iraq will:
  • News media: Succeed, 33%. Fail, 63%.
  • Academic/Think tank: Succeed, 27%. Fail, 71%.
  • Military: Succeed, 64%. Fail, 32%.
This gives me more reason for optimism than just about anything else I've seen.

(Poll from Pew Research Center, via Max Boot and Glenn Reynolds.)

Monday, November 21, 2005

On giving to colleges

Long ago I decided to remove my undergrad and grad alma maters (almae matres? How about, schools I attended?) from the list of charities to which I'd give serious donations.

I still give a token amount, because education is worth supporting. But I share the concern James Piereson voices in a Wall Street Journal piece called "Only Encouraging Them." The subheading fairly well summarizes Piereson's thesis: "Generous people give money to colleges without restrictions. The money gets misused."

Now that political correctness has fairly well run amok among universities and faculties, or the ones I attended anyway, is it reasonable to send them money? Read Mike Adams's columns from recent years if you doubt the current state of our campuses. Or read the first post on this blog to get widespread notice, on Ivy League faculty political donations.

The good news: Piereson thinks that with due diligence on the part of donors, constructive giving is possible.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Fact-checking Forbes

In an article on the 20 greatest individual athletic feats, Forbes writes of Babe Ruth,
[N]o one has ever matched his career slugging average of .690, or his nearly inconceivable slugging average of .847 in the 1920 season.
Perhaps Forbes is unaware that Barry Bonds shattered Ruth's single-season record for slugging average. In his legendary 2001 season, Bonds slugged .863 while hitting 73 home runs.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

McCain on winning the war in Iraq

In a speech Thursday, John McCain discussed the importance of winning the war in Iraq and his ideas of how to do so.

Real Clear Politics has a transcript.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Hold the presses--Columbia Journalism Review (well, its blog, anyway) cites David M!

No, not about the whole Victor Navasky/CJR lack of of transparency issue. Rather about my post two days ago on the Podhoretz piece in Commentary. CJR Daily makes the case (via examples, never actually stating the point) that rightwing bloggers tend to see the Podhoretz piece as an authoritative debunking of the Bush Lied! meme, while leftwing bloggers just think Podhoretz is wrong.

My take is here.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Bush Lied!!! Er, actually, no, he didn't

Norman Podhoretz has written a readable, common sense refutation of the Bush Lied!!! mantra entitled "Who Is Lying About Iraq?." Commentary magazine released it today in advance of the December issue. It's good to have an authoritative debunking on the record.

Judging from early blogosphere reaction, this won't convert many people. Most of those who link to it already agree with the premise, and the few lefties who link to it are doing their darnedest to debunk Podhoretz's debunking.

Essentially, Podhoretz's debunking is compelling but doomed. Certain things we know to be true even though our senses tell us otherwise. We have taught ourselves to overrule our senses because, well, that's what you do in these circumstances. The Earth is round. Doesn't look round, doesn't feel round, but it's roundtrust me.

And to vast swaths of the interested public, Bush Lied!!! is true We just know it.
  • We know that, evidence to the contrary, Bush knew there were no WMD stockpiles in Iraq, but he lied to us. Sure Democratic leaders and foreign governments thought the same as Bush, but we can overrule that line of thought in service of the greater truth, which is that Bush Lied!!!
  • The Scooter Libby indictment may appear to be, as the prosecuter said, about perjury and obstruction of justice, but we know it's really manufacturing and manipulating intelligence in order to bolster its case for the war in Iraq and to discredit anyone who dared to challenge the President (to borrow a phrase from Sen. Harry Reid)—because that serves the greater truth, which is that Bush Lied!!!
And so on. Podhoretz more or less anticipated this reaction:

What makes this charge so special is the amazing success it has enjoyed in getting itself established as a self-evident truth even though it has been refuted and discredited over and over again by evidence and argument alike. In this it resembles nothing so much as those animated cartoon characters who, after being flattened, blown up, or pushed over a cliff, always spring back to life with their bodies perfectly intact. Perhaps, like those cartoon characters, this allegation simply cannot be killed off, no matter what.


What puzzles me about the Bush Lied! mantra is that, to me anyway, it weakens the anti-war crowd's arguments. A great preponderance of the evidence (and yes, I've read evidence on both sides of the issue) suggests that Bush did not in fact lie. So if you base an anti-war stance on Bush's lying, you're already losing the argument.

I have much more patience with those who are against the war for legitimate reasons (e.g. our intel was not strong enough to use in a pre-emptive war scenario, we should have had more/fewer/different troops on the ground, our post-invasion planning was flawed). Each of these arguments has some merit and is certainly superior to the Bush Lied! line of reasoning. While these cases are not strong enough to convince me that we do not belong in Iraq, I can still respect them.

While we're on the point, for those wondering if we belong in Iraq, let me remind you of a piece Podhoretz wrote last year, "World War IV: How It Started, What It Means, and Why We Have to Win," which is still the most compelling case I've read on the topic.

* * *
  • For an example of the Bush Lied! mantra, refer to CJR Daily managing editor Steve Lovelady's letter to Jim Romensko discussing "the lies at the heart of the Iraq invasion," which I mentioned a while back and Mediacrity discussed in more detail.
  • I have a related post here.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Ira Stoll:
The New York Times thinks that the solution to the rioting in France is affirmative action for the rioters. Classic.
Heh. He's referring to this editorial:
Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy... said the answer was zero tolerance of crime. A better answer would involve job opportunities, decent housing and good education for these new citizens.

I do not have any particular insight into the rioting in France. But Daniel Freedman (via The New York Sun's blog) and Victor Davis Hanson (via a radio interview) do.

Monday, November 07, 2005

New education blog

Photo from

Right leaning columnist for USA Today and Reader's Digest (and occasional critic of Columbia Journalism Review) Laura Vanderkam has a new blog on gifted education, "Gifted Exchange." Go check it out.

I've long thought that most education public policy discussions and most public education money--at least at the primary and secondary levels--go towards making sure that those at the bottom and middle of the academic ladder can climb it. Helping those who need it most is of course a worthwhile goal.

But the great advances in society tend to be made by those at the top of the academic ladder. Are we doing enough to make sure they flourish and push society ahead? It's not an area I have any great knowledge in, but when I think about the number of articles I've read on special needs education versus gifted and talented education, or the title of the No Child Left Behind Act, it does get me wondering if we're giving the gifted their due. And if we are not, will society suffer?

Two places that are thinking about these issues are the Davidson Institute for Talent Development (with which Vanderkam has some connection) and the Belin-Blank Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development at the University of Iowa College of Education. (The Belins who established the center are quite an interesting family, but that is another story for another day.)

Two memos to self after reading the recently released Michael Brown FEMA e-mail messages:
  • Don't run for or accept any public office where my private messages may become public.
  • If the opportunity should ever present itself, don't hire Michael Brown.

Dog bites man: NY Times coverage of Victor Navasky

Consider this: Leftist replaces leftist as as publisher of leftist magazine (dog bites man), The New York Times writes it up. Leftist takes over neutral media monitor (man bites dog), the Times does not find it newsworthy.

Leftist Katrina vanden Heuvel, according to an article in today's Times, is replacing Victor Navasky as as publisher of The Nation. When Navasky (in the Times' words, "one of the reigning voices of the intellectual left") took over neutral media watchdog Columbia Journalism Review, the Times did not find it fit to print.

Here is the crux of today's story in the Times:
Victor Navasky, 72, publisher of The Nation, is officially handing over his job to Katrina vanden Heuvel, 46, the editor. She remains as editor and becomes publisher and general partner of the liberal Nation. Mr. Navasky, one of the reigning voices of the intellectual left for the last three decades, joined the magazine in 1978 as its editor and became publisher and general partner in 1995 when he bought it with a group of investors, including Ms. vanden Heuvel, who was then acting editor, and the actor Paul Newman.
Two aspects of the Times piece struck me.

First, the article contains the first mention (of which I am aware) anywhere in the Times that Navasky works at CJR:
Mr. Navasky will continue at The Nation as publisher emeritus and a shareholder but will devote most of his time to his other job, as chairman of The Columbia Journalism Review.
For some months Navasky has officially been CJR's chairman, and both the editorial and business sides have reported to him for considerably longer than that. I'm glad the Times has finally acknowledged this, even if they arrived eons late to the party.

Second, why does the Times consider Navasky's stepping down at The Nation more noteworthy than his stepping up at CJR many months ago? Note that Navasky had long ago given up the editor position at The Nation; the Times article is only about his giving up the publisher position. Yet it still passed the newsworthiness test. When Navasky took over CJR, it did not.

Regular readers of this site know that that, until outed in this blog and elsewhere, Navasky's CJR role was not public; he appeared nowhere in the CJR masthead, and no announcement appeared anywhere in CJR for what appears to be over a year. The only acknowledgement of his role (which CJR editors evidently thought was sufficient) was one mention in an alumni newsletter for Columbia's journalism school. CJR has been criticized (by me among others) for hiding Navasky's role. As one observer noted, the secrecy smacked of guilty knowledge: were the powers that be at the magazine uncomfortable with a paragon of the Left running a supposedly unbiased media watchdog?

And was the Times uncomfortable with Navasky's role as well? Could the paper have been complicit in not publicizing it? Or perhaps it was simply an oversight on the Paper of Record's part. But the contrast with the article published today does make one wonder.

  • As is his custom, Mediacrity pulls no punches:
    [A]ll pretenses have dropped away, ...Victor Navasky will now be devoting all his energies to Columbia Journalism Review. That makes complete the corruption of what had once been a respected, neutral journalism review.
  • Gawker:
    Next is what Navasky will be focusing on instead: “his other job, as chairman of The Columbia Journalism Review,” a fact that will make rightie press-crit sorts even more dyspeptic than usual.
    Gawker bills itself as "a mix of pop culture and media gossip,.... Gawker is compulsory reading for New York editors and reporters, and often sets the agenda..." Interesting then that the news of Navasky's role at CJR is just coming to Gawker's attention now. Guess if the Times hasn't reported on it yet, it must not be fit to print.

  • Romenesko, who ran a brief snippet when the story broke five months ago, summarizes today's Times story without adding any commentary.

  • Welcome, Instapundit readers! It's my first 'lanche in quite a while.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Cute Thanksgiving song. (Make sure the sound is on.)