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Are You a College Student in Nyc?


If you are a student in the New York City area and interested in interning at NRO during the school year (i.e. nowish), drop me a line with key details like availability, why you’d like to intern at NRO, etc. at [email protected]. THE SUBJECT LINE MUST READ “INTERNSHIP.” If you do not get some sort of reply from me by the 15th or so, it’s possible the message got lost in cyberspace or spam, so do followup.

Feinstein For Vouchers in D.C.


The Washington Post is reporting that Feinstein will support spending for school vouchers in Washington, D.C. Now if only we could say the same about my former home state Senator . . .




Here’s one wire story on Estrada’s decision to withdraw (and here’s another). Frankly, this had been rumored for a while, and Estrada deserves a tremendous amount of credit for sticking it out as long as he did. For a lawyer in private practice, nomination limbo is particularly difficult as it can inhibit one’s ability to develop new clients. Academics and judges who are nominated do not have the same problem. They can wait out obstruction more easily. His decision is a substantial loss for the President, and the D.C. Circuit. Estrada received a unanimous “well-qualified” rating from the ABA, which is exceedingly rare for someone of his age with no prior judicial experience. He would have made a fine judge — which is why, in the end, he was blocked.

Web Briefing: September 17, 2014

By The Way...



Missing My Point Ii


Which brings me to the second area where I think Andrew is unfair to what I wrote. He writes:

Jonah also rebuts the civil rights argument that the denial of same-sex marriage is equivalent to the denial of inter-racial marriage. Why? Jonah argues that it’s because no blacks back in the 1960s entertained radical notions about marriage and family life. Really? Has he read much cultural history? In 1967, when blacks first won the constitutional right to marry whom they pleased, you could also have had a front-page story in the New York Times citing many blacks who disapproved of inter-racial marriage. A hefty plurality still do. Would Jonah have written a column saying: “See? Those negroes don’t even want to marry whites! Why should we debase this sacred institution for just a few of those people who don’t represent most blacks anyway?”

This strikes me as a deliberate misreading. The point isn’t whether a majority of blacks favored interracial marriage. The reason the analogy between gays and blacks doesn’t hold, is that blacks who argued for interracial marriage didn’t say that A) they should be allowed the freedom to marry and B) in order to accommodate blacks, the fundamental nature of the institution should be re-written beyond simply amending the racial prohibitions. Blacks said they wanted the internal rules of matrimony to apply to them just like everybody else. That, as I understood it, was the argument for gay marriage. But as the Times article suggests, a lot of folks who want gay marriage legalized don’t really believe that the rules of the institution should apply to them the same way. They want the social approval legalization confers, sure, but not the hard work the institution entails.
Here, I think, a better analogy is to be found in the arguments of feminists. They said women should be allowed to be firefighters, for example. However, since it’s unfair to ask women to be able to carry as much weight as men, they argued, the physical requirements should be amended to accommodate women. Now we’re seeing the first signs that the cultural left will not stop at equal opportunity. Rather, they will argue that it’s “unfair” to hold same-sex couples to the same boring rules we hold traditional couples to. Maybe I’m making too much of “Fab” and the Times, but I got the distinct sense that this article was a harbinger of a cultural assault. Indeed, if Andrew is sincere in all of his talk about Lincoln-Douglass debates and all that – and I am sure he is – then I’m curious why his finely tuned New York Times radar didn’t ping at all on this story.

Missing The Point


As Stanley mentioned, my friend Andrew Sullivan is quite perturbed by my syndicated column on gay marriage, which is kind of cool because I get so much angry email from folks who say I’m in his thrall. Anyway, Andrew plays a bit of sleight of hand in describing what I wrote in order to rebut me.

In my column, I make what I think is a fairly reasonable point: If the goal is to undermine and/or rewrite the rules of marriage – a goal not shared by all gays to be sure — then maybe marriage isn’t the right institution for same-sex couples (I favor civil unions of some kind). Indeed, what is usually so compelling about Andrew’s arguments for gay marriage is his deep understanding of the conservative and “conservatizing” power of the institution. If that aspect of marriage – in shorthand, monogamy – has to hit the cutting room floor for marriage to be “inclusive” for homosexuals, then why even bother calling it marriage anymore at all?

What so disturbed me about that article wasn’t that I “discovered” there are homosexual radicals out there, as Andrew suggests. No, what I found so disturbing about the prominent front page story in the paper of record was how clearly it signaled that many advocates of gay marriage simply cannot be trusted – Andrew not included. The Times has been waxing eloquent about how gays are just like everybody else and therefore it is a matter of basic decency to treat them thus. This argument is very compelling, obviously. But if the Times – never mind Hollywood, the professoriate, and cultural libertarians and libertines everywhere – is willing to sell out their avowed principles and arguments on the issue of gay marriage for the momentary frisson of siding with gays who want to challenge the bourgeois and boring notion that monogamy is the bedrock of marriage, then folks like Andrew are going to have to do a far better job persuading average Americans that the liberal side of the culture war can be believed when they say they want the same rules for gays as for everybody else. The issue is not that some “straights” oppose monogamy and some gays surely support it. No doubt that’s true. It’s that many pro-gay marriage advocates either want to redefine the institution twice over – marriage can be same-sex and it’s perfectly okay to introduce your husband to your date – or that they are liars saying they want the same rules for everybody, but really don’t mean it.

Sullivan and Jonah


Andrew Sullivan has responded to Jonah’s syndicated column on the New York Times piece about Canadian gay marriage. Sullivan disputes Jonah’s critique of the analogy between misogyny and gay marriage. First of all, I think it needs to be stressed that marriage is not strictly a question of civil rights. On the basis of individual rights alone, legal marriage would have to be abolished–a position favored by many libertarians. In marriage, society holds that there is a compelling interest for the state to give special support and encouragement to a particular kind of family arrangement. Given such special state support to heterosexual couples with children, gays, polygamists, polyamorists, and single people all have a basis for claiming that they are being discriminated against. In fact, single people have begun to organize to fight state favoritism of married and childbearing couples. I believe that the state is entirely justified in giving special support and encouragement to traditional marriage, despite the complaints of, say, singles rights activists. Given this special state support, is skin color relevant to one’s ability to participate in marriage? No. There is nothing intrinsic about skin color that matters here. But the differential sexual and child-bearing dynamics of gay, lesbian, and heterosexual couples are highly relevant to marriage. That is why the civil rights analogy does not hold. By the way, in responding to my long “Beyond Gay Marriage” piece, Sullivan agreed that was fair to worry about the effects of gay marriage on monogamy. It seems to me that, in saying this, Sullivan has already acknowledged that the civil rights analogy does not hold. Sullivan believes that the intrinsically more stable dynamic of lesbian coupling will cancel out any negative effects of sexually open gay relationships. I disagree, and have said why many times. But in conceding that the effects of gay marriage on monogamy is a fair topic for concern, Sullivan has implicitly conceded that the analogy to skin color is flawed–that the dynamics of sexual coupling raises questions intrinsically related to marriage in a way that skin color does not. The danger is not that gays won’t marry each other, it is that they will–but with a different understanding of the rules of marriage. That is what made that Times article such a matter for concern.

Sweet Home


My goodness, the stuff I am getting from Alabamans about the beauty,
serenity, fragrance, vitality, variety, courtesy, hospitality, etc. etc., of
their state. It sounds like Heaven on earth. My previous impressions, I
confess, centered around shotgun shacks, pickup trucks, chewing tobacco,
coon dogs, hookworm, massive dental attrition, and (to borrow one from Tom
Wolfe) hats with air-holes round the brim. I can see I am going to have to
undertake a major review of my prejudices. Can’t wait.

Hong Kong and The Future of Freedom


Terrific piece by Arthur Waldron in the current Commentary magazine, title
Hong Kong and the Future of Freedom.”
You may think you couldn’t
care less about Hong Kong, but you should read this.

Debate Scoring


The Sacramento Bee’s Dan Weintraub (see) has this to say about Tom McClintock:

Tom McClintock’s performance reminded me of the old line that when you tell the truth, you don’t have to worry about keeping your stories straight. Whatever you might think of him and his ideas, it can’t be said that McClintock trims his sails to match his audience. This is a man who knows what he believes and isn’t going to be shaken from it. He also knows how to say it in 60 seconds if that is what you give him, or 30, or even 15. He distinguished himself as a conservative’s conservative, on everything from taxes to abortion, the death penalty, immigration and the environment. I still don’t think he’s in the mainstream of the electorate, but he has the look of a guy who is willing to wait for the rest of us to figure out what he’s known all along.

The New Top Expert


Enron-connected Tom White, who the press hounded to resign from the Pentagon, is now suddenly the new top expert on how the Pentagon failed to anticipate postwar Iraq. He appeared this morning via tape kicking off the interview segments at both ABC and NBC this morning.

Click On That Ad...Please


What a relief! Now that an ad for How Ronald Reagan Changed My Life has begun appearing on NRO, I may finally stop yapping about the book myself. Before I lapse into silence, however, Jim Fowler, the terrifically nice guy who sells ads for NRO, has asked me to issue one final plea to the readers of this happy Corner.

Click on the adplease.

Doing so will prove to the book’s publisher that dedicated readers in their millions (well, all right, in their thousands) spend some time on NRO every day.

Ramesh Touches a Nerve


Will California Republicans be better off after this recall? Aw, doggone it, Ramesh, why’d you have to go and spoil all the fun by asking a question like that?

Consider the possible outcomes:

1. Davis squeaks by, remaining in office. But after defeating the recall drive, he’d be in a stronger position. California Republicans? Worse off.

2. Bustamante wins–and sets himself up to run again in three years, just as Steve Hayward suggests below. California Republicans? Once again, worse off.

3. Der Arnold wins–and raises taxes. At this point the leading Republican in the state would be pro-tax and pro-choice and pro-everything else that Reagan Republicans oppose. Maybe Arnold would be able to register a whole slew of new Republicans, but what would it matter?

4. Only if McClintock wins or Arnold wins and stares down every attempt to raise taxes that comes at him would California Republicans be better off. The first possibility, a McClintock victory, just ain’t in the books. Even though we face a mere four weeks until the election, it’ll cost upward of $10 million to mount a creditable campaign. I don’t know a soul in California politics who expects McClintock to raise more than $3 million. The second possibility, that Arnold would set his feet in concrete, refusing to raise taxes despite intense pressures from the legislature, interest groups, and the press–well, I suppose it could happen. And I’d better tell you that I have colleagues here at the Hoover Institution who are advising Arnold on economic strategy and are convinced it would* happen. But if Arnold won’t take the no-tax pledge now, during the campaign, why should anybody expect him to take it after he’s elected?

Very, very smart and savvy people–my buddy Hugh Hewitt comes to mind–not only support Arnold but feel real enthusiasm for the man. Me? He could still capture my heart by supporting a constitutional amendment to limit state spending–an adaptation of Reagan’s 1973 Proposition One of the 1992 Colorado measure. But I don’t intend to hold my breath.

Re: Carl Barks, Unsung Conservative Hero


I was getting e-mail all day yesterday on this, in two distinct categories:

(1) Readers who have trouble believing that anyone was ever named “Carl
Barks.” E.g. “What’s THAT all about? The author of DAS KAPITAL with a head

(2) Emotional tributes to the enlightening and educative powers–not to
mention the spats-wearing prowess–of Scrooge McDuck. Sample: “I remember
one snippet of an episode where Scrooge and the nephews visit a poor island
where bottlecaps are currency and everyone has practically none. Scrooge,
in a fit of generosity, flies his plane over the island and dumps thousands
of bottlecaps, where they are joyfully scooped up by the islanders. All is
well, and Scrooge returns the following day to a diner to have lunch… only
to discover that the price of a sandwich has gone up from 5 bottlecaps to
1,000! Something clicked, and the connection between the two events
suddenly dawned on me. Had the show ended with the dropping of the
bottlecaps, my dimwitted mind might never have made the connection, and I’d
be subscribing to MotherJones today. Thanks, Scrooge McDuck!”

I can verify that Carl Barks did indeed exist, in corporeal form until
8/25/2000, when he went off to the great animation studio in the sky at age
99. To judge from all
the encomiums I have received from fiscal conservatives who first saw the
light while reading or viewing a Scrooge McDuck cartoon, Carl Barks deserves
an honored place in the conservative pantheon. So who’s got the keys to the
pantheon this week? Jonah? Rick? Andrew? Come on, someone must have
them. Where’s the duty roster, Kathryn?

Re: Operation Phoenix


Rich: I hate to inject a note of cynicism here, but I nearly choked on my
coffee reading these words of yours: “I was talking to a military expert
yesterday about Iraq. He said there are couple elements to succeeding in our
counterinsurgency efforts: 1) Sealing off the borders, which means insisting
on Syria’s help doing so….” Er, Rich, sealing off desert borders is a
thing that the present-day U.S.A. is… not sensationally good at.

Hey Now, Derb


About that “Jersey side”: a decent part of that gorgeous foilage-type stuff Rick was talking about yesterday in New York is actually on the “Jersey side” of the Hudson. You’d be surprised how many New York City commuters live in N.Y.S. ‘burbs that require traveling through Jersey to get to. Just watch who you’re knocking. From my experience, a lot of the people who live in Rockland and Orange Counties (Jersey side of NY) are from the Bronx, commute to the city because they are cops and firemen. Just warning you.

More On The New York City Sensibility


A reader reports: “Fran Liebowitz’s definition of ‘the out of doors’:
’That space between the taxi cab and the front door of the building.’”

Another reader, however, instructs me that Alexander Portnoy grew up in
Weehawken, not Newark. Hey, who knows that stuff? It’s all “Jersey side.”

(In my bowling days, I was amused to hear fellow bowlers–Noo Yawkers
all–refer to a strike attained by hitting the head pin on the _left_,
instead of the more usual right, as “a Jersey strike.” What do they call it
in other states, I wonder? To which I think I can hear Rick reply: “Who



Great story in the NYTimes about how the 101st has succeeded in post-war Iraq. Note this bit: “The 101st has also established an employment office for former Iraqi military officers, found grain silos for local farmers and trained the local police.” We really need a colonial office to handle these sort of things, although of course we could never actually call it that. Also, note to Ramesh-the Marine commander is a Princeton grad: “An Army general who holds an advanced degree in international relations from Princeton, General Petraeus was steeped in nation-building before he arrived in Iraq.”

Operation Phoenix


I was talking to a military expert yesterday about Iraq. He said there are couple elements to succeeding in our counterinsurgency efforts: 1) Sealing off the borders, which means insisting on Syria’s help doing so; 2) Getting good intelligence, on the model of what the Israelis managed do against Hamas and Islamic Jihad. This requires having the Iraqis on our side and spreading a lot of money around; 3) Learning from what worked for the Brits in Malaysia and for us in Vietnam. In this last connection, my expert mentioned Operation Phoenix, the aggressive campaign to assassinate Viet Cong leaders that was controversial but successful. I’m interested in learning more about Operation Phoenix–perhaps for a column sometime–so please write if you know about it. But any military topic gets a lot of response in The Corner, so please write only if you consider yourself very, very well-informed on the topic and might know good people to talk to. Thanks…

Losing Bin Laden


I can’t mention Posner without plugging the other great pre-9/11 book out, Losing Bin Laden, by Richard Miniter.


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