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Martin Peretz on. . . Guess Who?


in The New Republic (sub. req’d):

I have a question I’ve been reluctant to ask. Do the Clintons have any friends who aren’t really rich? Maybe just a few, for old time’s sake. But, as I read the clips about them, they consort largely, and maybe only, with zillionaires and very high-pay Hollywood types. It is not an axiomatic vocational hazard of politicians. Let me take Gore as an instance. He and Tipper have musician friends and professor friends and artist friends and just plain worker friends and farmer friends, for sure. Not that they don’t mix with computer magnates, as well. But the Gores are rooted in ordinary life–in real, even quotidian activity.

I wonder if Gore–just as an example–has ever introduced anyone to Peretz this way. “Meet my friend Joe. He’s just a plain worker.”

Gov.-Elect Patrick Worked the Phones Against a Vote


More from Massachusetts

AP :

Lawmakers in Massachusetts, the only state where gay marriage is legal, voted Tuesday to allow a proposed constitutional amendment to move forward that would effectively ban it.

The amendment’s backers had collected 170,000 signatures to get a question on the 2008 ballot asking voters to declare marriage to be between a man and a woman, but they still needed the approval of two consecutive legislatures.

Gov.-elect Deval Patrick had urged lawmakers not to vote on it Tuesday, which would have effectively killed it.


Casey on the way out?


Fascinating New York Times piece today on the administration’s Iraq deliberations. It suggests that Bush realizes Gen. Casey has championed a failed strategy and will (finally) act accordingly:

Over the past 12 months, as optimism collided with reality, Mr. Bush increasingly found himself uneasy with General Casey’s strategy. And now, as the image of Saddam Hussein at the gallows recedes, Mr. Bush seems all but certain not only to reverse the strategy that General Casey championed, but also to accelerate the general’s departure from Iraq, according to senior military officials.

Read the whole thing.

Web Briefing: December 28, 2014

“Don’t put pen to paper.”


John McCain’s John Weaver responds to the Rudy memo leak.


This May Ultimately Push Mass. Lawmakers Toward a Vote today


From the Globe last week:

Governor Mitt Romney may refuse to move ahead on automatic pay raises for lawmakers unless they vote next week on a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriages, a top administration official said yesterday.

Statehouse proceedings this afternoon can be watched here.

Journalism Fellowships


For the last several months, I’ve been the mentor to a young writer who participates in the Journalism Fellowship Program of the Phillips Foundation. I’ve been familiar with the program for a number of years as an observer–but now as an informal participant, I’m constantly reminded of what an outstanding opportunity it represents for people who would like to establish themselves as professional writers. Applications for the next round of grants are due on March 1. Learn more about it here.

Happy New Year


If you are just joining us after a week off, here’s a quick piece guide:

Monday, January 01, 2007

     Symposium: Just Tragic?

Saturday, December 30, 2006

     Editors: Justice Executed
     Robbins: Justice
     Sowell: Unproductive Talk

Friday, December 29, 2006

     Loyola: Justice for Saddam, Precedent for the Future
     Arkes: Lawyers@Bay
     Symposium: Screening Room
     Derbyshire: December Diary
     Buckley: Spare Thoughts on Saddam
     Sowell: Worthiness
     Lowry: The John Edwards Evasion
     Goldberg: Jerry Ford’s Magic

Thursday, December 28, 2006

     Martin: The Moderates’ Last Stand
     Sowell: Poor Thinking

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

     Kengor: A Pair for History
     Symposium: Model Ford
     Ledeen: Good Knight
     Flashback: Ford and Conservatism
     Miller: Bold Moves
     Kerpen: Will Democrats Rein in Earmarks?
     Tamny: Getting the 2007 Dollar Right
     Bowyer: Goldilocks vs. Gold
     O’Beirne: Welfare Reform Made Interesting
     Robbins: Wooden Ships and Iron Men
     Symposium: It Was the Best of Times, It Was the Worst of Times
     Symposium: Worth a Read
     Johnson: I Resolve…
     Hibbs: Stiller Life
     Blyth: Women of the Year Awards
     Lowry: Bush’s Vietnam Syndrome
     Lopez: “Never Again” — and Meaning It
     Loyola: Diplomacy Theater
     Sowell: “The World’s Wealth”?
     Symposium: Right Hopes
     Buckley: Point to Bloody Hands?
     Symposium: We Predict
     Goldberg: Are You Certain About That?
     French: Blue-State Blunders

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

     McCarthy: Sending the Mullahs to Bed Without Supper
     Sowell: A Dangerous Obsession



A reader:

Derb—According to a December 27th article in the London Times, England has made its last payments to the US and Canada on its World War II loans – $83,250,000 as the last payment to the US, and $22,700,000 as the last payment to Canada.  That only took 61 years.  I wonder how much interest we charged them, or if we let them pay it in 1945 dollars or took account of inflation, etc.
[Derb]  Don’t know, but can’t help being reminded of Calvin Coolidge’s response when he was criticized for refusal to “forget” America’s WW1 loans:  “They hired the money, didn’t they?”

S.C. 2008 Update


McClatchy News Service

U.S. Sen. John McCain of Arizona is methodically building a 2008 presidential campaign machine in South Carolina that includes a cast of top-drawer Republican officials who supported President Bush six years ago.

The McCain campaign is expected to announce its state finance committee this week. Political sources say it will include several prominent Republican businessmen who backed Bush over McCain last time….

Media & Gerald Ford




Some interesting comments from a libertarian neighbor of mine, down the road at Cold Spring Harbor lab.  This is the Watson of Watson & Crick.  WARNING:  Some mildly bad language… in reference to our President.

Fox News All Stars


From last night’s Special Report with Brit Hume:

On Saddam’s Execution

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER: Look, the carrying out of this sentence was an act of justice. There’s nobody on the planet of six billion people who tortured and killed more people than Saddam, and it’s quite a distinction to be the preeminent monster of your time. The problem was the haste and the stealth and the way in which it was carried out which has helped to enrage the Sunnis.

JEFF BIRNBAUM: I think we have to worry how great and vast that Sunni reaction is. We are now getting reports from Iraq that Sunnis are protesting in large numbers. We don’t know exactly how large. But they are reacting to those video clips being put on television, which do show Saddam being taunted right before his death. [The U.S.] actually had to insist that there was more dignity in the burial of Saddam Hussein, that is, the U.S. had to insist than the government wanted to. And all of these things, I think, do not bode well in a place where there is sectarian violence, and that may be the central problem of the country.

FRED BARNES: I think they don’t bode well, but they don’t matter. What mattered is was Saddam had to be killed, had to be executed, it was justice, as Charles said, and I think the sooner the better. . . .

And I don’t think, and we see it in the media, in particular, that the Sunnis should be treated as some abused minority. They have accepted no guilt, no responsibility for Saddam’s crimes . . . They have mounted the insurgency, and those who weren’t a part of it allowed it. They provided the ocean that allowed these insurgents to swim in. . . .

I’m not worried about harmony. What I’m worried about is crushing the Sunni insurgency, because nothing good can happen until then. There’s no offer that can be made that somebody can accept. First you have to have security. You can’t have this level of violence there caused mostly by the Sunni insurgency. They’re the ones who are carrying out all the suicide bombings, and they can get mad about it because they think it wasn’t a dignified execution, I say so what.

KRAUTHAMMER: But the way to defeat it is to win over the clan leaders in the Sunni leaders. . . . And they will not come over to a government which is acting on behalf of Shiites.

BARNES: They won’t come over to a government as long as they think the insurgency may prevail, and that’s up in the air.



I am TOTALLY not complaining about the NRO editirx–I would NEVER do that!–but the email I posted from Prot. Alexander Lebedeff identified him, correctly, like that, with the title “Prot.,” short for “Protodeacon,” an honorific rank in the Eastern Christian churches.  The ever-vigilant editrix thought I’d committed a typo, and changed “Prot.” to “Prof.”  It’s logical, and thank goodness for conscientious editors; but apologies to Prot. Lebedeff.

Donna Hanover?


K-Lo-  Your news judgement on what the headline should be on the Giuliani leaked memo is very interesting. 

If Pols Were The Sensitive Types


Lynne Cheney and Jimmy Carter, currently sitting next to one another at National Cathedral, would find things a bit awkward there. Nancy Pelosi would be unhappy about her seating behind Dennis Hastert. Judith Nathan would vow to work darned hard for Rudy 2008 to make sure she never has to sit behind Brian Mulrooney again.

But pols aren’t like that. That’s just for catty pundit types to notice. 

Shock News of the Year!


Mitt Romney — yes, I said Mitt Romney — is running for president! Can you believe it??????

Google Tipping Point


Interesting email re yesterday’s post:

Dear Mr. Goldberg,

I’m one of those crazy dot-com entrepreneurs so if this topic is of
any interest to you hee are my thoughts…

Prof. Reynolds says, “Google should be a lot more worried about this
than it seems to be — all you need to do to take your business
elsewhere is type a different URL.” The same could effectively be said
about Coke and Pepsi, which are usually located next to each other in
stores, and are, for all practical purposes, 100% equivalent
products*. Google, on the other hand, established itself 5-6 years ago
by utterly demolishing the competition in terms of quality (i.e. speed
and accuracy) and has largely maintained this lead**. So switching
does not merely require one to cope with changing his/her brand
affiliation, but to accept an inferior product. Not. Gonna. Happen.

* I happen to prefer the flavor of Coke to Pepsi, especially in the
diet version, but I also happen to like Coke’s brand personality
better. I like to think that I buy soft drinks based purely on taste,
but don’t we all like to think we’re too clever to get manipulated by

** The story of how Google went from PhD thesis to $100bn market cap
in about a decade is a classic tale of missed opportunities. It took
the technology companies until at least 2002 to take Google seriously,
and the media companies didn’t really start doing so until late 2005
when they saw the billions in ad money flowing online, never to return
to print or broadcast. Indexing the whole Internet is a decent-sized
challenge and so it will take years for anyone to catch up. Yahoo
still largely stinks, while the new MS Live is promising, and AOL’s
latest shows an example of innovating in a different directions,
results TBD.



An interesting email from Prof. Alexander Lebedeff  on the state of religion in Russia:

I would like to share the latest information on religion in Russia,  based on a poll by the newspaper Izvestia and the All-Russian Center for the Study of Public Opinion (ACSPO).  The text of the article [unfortunately in Russian--JD]  is here.

Briefly, it states that at the end of 2006, 15 years after the fall of the atheistic Soviet Union, 86% of the population believes in God, and only 16% consider themselves atheists.

Fully 63% of the (adult) population consider themselves to be Orthodox Christians. This is 75% of those who believe in God.

The article states that in the beginning of the 1990s, when the ACSPO first began to analyze the data on religion, only 34% of the adult population considered themselves to be Orthodox, by 1999, this had risen to 50%, and now is at 63%.

The percentage of those who are ‘churched,’ defined as those who attend churches at least once a month and regularly partake of the mystery of Holy Communion, is also rising. In the ‘perestroika’ years,it was around 4%, and that has now risen to 10-12%.

If 15 years ago the average age the majority of people attending services was 60, at present the average age has fallen to 48, which is much closer to the average age of the population in general — 44.

Even more important is that the percentage of young people (those under 25) who consider themselves Orthodox is 58%.

This poll was taken in 153 population centers in 46 regions and republics of Russia.
[Derb]  While we’re on the religion thread, Heather Mac Donald has submitted to Razib’s “10 Questions” grilling over at Gene Expression.  They put me through the same third degree a year or so ago.

Do Movies Have A Future?


In this week’s New Yorker, David Denby has written a very long and very revelatory article about the nature of the movie business and the way is is likely to change as a result of the Internet. Twenty years ago in Insight, I wrote the worst article of my life (and that’s saying a lot–in 27 years of published pieces, a lot of duds have come from my pen) about Denby and a piece he wrote for New York magazine about the declining quality of American movies. He was right and I was very wrong, and I’m glad to have this chance to correct the record and congratulate Denby for this one. 

An Affirmative Action


As noted here and in some of the other blogs (Bench Memos, Phi Beta Cons): Good news on preferences: a federal appeals court has ordered Michigan’s universities to comply immediately with Michigan’s new, voter-approved ban on so-called affirmative action.  In doing so, the court rejected a ruling by a lower court allowing universities to delay the elimination of preferences until the next admissions cycle.  The ruling also suggested that further attempts to block the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative would fail.  Here’s a piece on the decision from the Detroit News, “Racial ban back on for 3 colleges.”(Notice the tendentious title.)  And here’s a statement by Terrence Pell, of the Center for Individual Rights, which argued the case against the University of Michigan in court.  And here is the decision.


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