Buckley: "The political problem of the Bush administration is grave, possibly beyond the point of rescue. The opinion polls are savagely decisive on the Iraq question. About 60 percent of Americans wish the war ended — wish at least a timetable for orderly withdrawal...How can the Republican party, headed by a president determined on a war he can’t see an end to, attract the support of a majority of the voters?...There are grounds for wondering whether the Republican party will survive this dilemma."
Brooks: The Republicans suffered one unpleasant event in November 2006, and they are headed toward an even nastier one in 2008. The Democrats have opened up a wide advantage in party identification and are crushing the G.O.P. among voters under 30...there has been a clear shift, in poll after poll, away from Republican positions...The public, in short, wants change.
And yet the Republicans refuse to offer that. On Capitol Hill, there is a strange passivity in Republican ranks. Republicans are privately disgusted with how President Bush has led their party and the nation, but they don’t publicly offer any alternatives. They just follow sullenly along. They privately believe the country needs new approaches to the war against Islamic extremism, but they don’t offer them. They try to block Democratic initiatives, but they don’t offer the country any new ways to think about the G.O.P.
They are like people quietly marching to their doom.
And at the presidential level, things are even worse...
Al Qaeda is a more dangerous enemy today than it has ever been before. It has suffered some setbacks since September 11, 2001: losing its state within a state in Afghanistan, having several of its top operatives killed, failing in its attempts to overthrow the governments of Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia. But thanks largely to Washington's eagerness to go into Iraq rather than concentrate on hunting down al Qaeda's leaders, the organization now has a solid base of operations in the badlands of Pakistan and an effective franchise in western Iraq. Its reach has spread throughout the Muslim world, where it has developed a large cadre of operatives, and in Europe, where it can claim the support of some disenfranchised Muslim locals and members of the Arab and Asian diasporas. Osama bin Laden has mounted a successful propaganda campaign to make himself and his movement the primary symbols of Islamic resistance worldwide. His ideas now attract more followers than ever.
As women gain visibility in the blogosphere, they are targets of sexual
harassment and threats. Men are harassed too, and lack of civility is
an abiding problem on the Web. But women, who make up about half the
online community, are singled out in more starkly sexually threatening
...women have censored themselves, turned to private forums or closed
comments on blogs. Many use gender-neutral pseudonyms. Some just gut it
out. But the effect of repeated harassment, bloggers and experts
interviewed said, is to make women reluctant to participate online --
undercutting the promise of the Internet as an egalitarian forum.
NYT: "A huge crowd that appeared to number in the hundreds of thousands
gathered in central Istanbul today to protest against the government of
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and what they said was his agenda to move Turkey away from the country’s secular legacy."
France-bashing was popular a few years ago, but the Turks' refusal to cooperate with our invasion of Iraq was more damaging to the effort than anything the French did -- and a sign that we lacked the support we needed to start the war.
Turkish concern over an independent Kurdistan makes all the talk about dividing up Iraq too simplistic.
Continuing efforts to tie Turkey to the west are a big deal, even as it struggles to define its past.
N&R leadership series starts next month with One Guilford: A Leadership Symposium, described in the press release
county-wide gathering of key civic, business and political leaders...part of a unique collaboration between the
News & Record and High Point University...the first of several community discussions on
leadership the News & Record will sponsor in 2007."
They asked me about inviting bloggers, I said, great idea, put Hoggard on a panel about leadership...no, no, they said, just bloggers to cover the event. Oh. Not as good, but a start...
I'm all for regionalism and Triadism, but I'm a bigbeliever in Guilfordism, so I like the focus of this event.
Extreme commuting. One of the main reasons we chose to live in GSO is quality of life, as this article reminded me. From Nick Paumgarten's story:
Roughly one out of every six American workers commutes more than
forty-five minutes, each way. People travel between counties the way
they used to travel between neighborhoods. The number of commuters who
travel ninety minutes or more each way—known to the Census Bureau as
“extreme commuters”—has reached 3.5 million, almost double the number
in 1990. They’re the fastest-growing category, the vanguard in a land
of stagnant wages, low interest rates, and ever-radiating sprawl.
They’re the talk-radio listeners, billboard glimpsers, gas guzzlers,
and swing voters, and they don’t—can’t—watch the evening news. Some
take on long commutes by choice, and some out of necessity, although
the difference between one and the other can be hard to discern. A
commute is a distillation of a life’s main ingredients, a product of
fundamental values and choices. And time is the vital currency: how
much of it you spend—and how you spend it—reveals a great deal about
how much you think it is worth.
Too bad Shuler doesn't have some kind of forum to speak for himself. Oh wait, he does.
NCRR reports on a panel discussion: A member of the audience asked the panel if in effect, Giuliani could
overcome perceived weaknesses in social conservative issues that would
cause the "Christian right" to support him. At this point, Bill Lee
made some very telling observations, which in my opinion the so called
"Christian right" should wake up to. Bill said in essence that the
Christian right is no longer a monolithic block. In the polling that he
has done, he has not seen the so-called Christian right achieve a
majority for any candidate. I think this may be an issue or at least a
cause of concern for the Conservative Cause in the way the movement
communicates with and motivates the self identified "Christian right."
The media culture demands that people speak with certainty on issues that remain very much uncertain. It's the cable news mentality, and among its latest victims are early declaimers of the SurgeIsWorking line, from whom Bush just pulled the football again.
NYT: "The Bush administration will not try to assess whether the troop increase in Iraq is producing signs of political progress or greater security until
September, and many of Mr. Bush’s top advisers now anticipate that any
gains by then will be limited, according to senior administration
I read Then We Came To The End on the plane this week. It's clever and absorbing, and if you were a youngish professional during the fin-de-bubble era you may feel at times that Joshua Ferris has written a history of some people you almost knew instead of a novel. Then We Came To The End is funny, darker than the American version of The Office (to which it has been not-entirely-unfairly compared) but nowhere near as dark as Joseph Heller's Something Happened, which way back in 1974 was called by Kurt Vonnegut Jr "the thousand-and-first version of 'The Hucksters' or 'The Man in the Gray Flannel
Vonnegut said Heller's book might be "shown to future generations as a spooky sort of
summary of what my generation of nebulously clever white people experienced, and what we, within
the cage of those experiences, then did with our lives." Ferris does not achieve (or even attempt) that kind of depth, but he's working similar territory and does well the things that he sets out to do.
Certainly Tobias could use some stress relief: "He has proven so essential to [Condoleezza] Rice's plans that she had refused to let
him leave even though officials said he had wanted to resign from the
high-pressure job for at least six months."
The special prosecutors’ investigation revealed multiple and significant inconsistencies and contradictions in the case, and no evidence to corroborate the accusing witness’s versions of the events:
No DNA evidence confirmed her stories. Any DNA evidence that might arguably support her stories is subject to a reasonable alternative explanation.
No medical evidence confirmed her stories...
No other witness confirmed her stories...Her varied accounts show her as a witness who would not be helpful to the prosecution.
The accusing witness’s accounts of the story changed significantly. Even in the face of facts that contradicted her stories, the accusing witness was unwilling to acknowledge in meetings with the special prosecutors that she might be mistaken about the identification of the defendants.
....Based on the significant inconsistencies between the evidence and the various accounts given by the accusing witness, the Attorney General and his prosecutors determined that the three individuals were innocent of the criminal charges and dismissed the cases April 11, 2007.
N&O: "[T]he [Durham] police department bears some of the blame. Chief Steve Chalmers now
should offer an accounting of his department's professional lapses;
explain what, if any, discipline has been meted out; and detail what
safeguards have been put in place to keep such lapses from occurring
again. If Chalmers balks, his bosses, City Manager Patrick Baker and
the City Council, should insist."
Is there value in publishing your own words and having control of them? Of course. Email and blogs offer efficiencies across timezones and schedules, too.
But there are lots of advantages to live conversation, in person or on the phone, starting with the fact it's an actual conversation instead of a written back-and-forth. Tone and nuance and followup questions and pauses and interruptions and so on all create a rich and different experience from the email trade, or republishing a blog post. Physical descriptions of people and environments gleaned from on-site meetings add value, too.
Interviewing can be an art, and journalism should be more than than cutting and pasting the carefully-controlled writings of one's sources.
Jarvis is correct that the interview and review process is now an ongoing event, and that the reporter doesn't control the process anymore. All to the good.
But his dictum, "Perform the interview in writing," is far too limiting. It's an option, not a rule, unless it's a rule for watering down journalism.
The excerpts deal with religion in general, Islam, and Mormonism. I wonder how non-Muslims and non-Mormons will regard the tone and content of Hitchens' scathing attacks on those faiths. As I said here, "we all believe that the sacred texts of religions other than our own are, essentially, mythologies."
Transcript of yesterday's remarks by Gen. Petraeus. Excerpt: "Today, members of al Qaeda, extremist
militias and Sunni insurgent groups seek to destroy what Iraqi leaders
are trying to build. Political parties with ethnosectarian interests,
limited governmental capacity, and corruption add additional
challenges, and exceedingly unhelpful activities by Iran and Syria,
especially those by Iran, about which we have learned a great deal in
the past month, compound the enormous problems facing the new Iraq."
Josh Marshall's take on the big picture in Iraq: "We can't explain who we're fighting because this isn't a war, like
most, where the existence of a particular enemy or specific danger
dictates your need to fight. We're occupying Iraq because continuing to
do so allows us to pretend that the initial plan wasn't completely
misguided and a mistake. If we continue to run the place a bit longer,
the reasoning goes, we'll root out this or that problem that is
preventing our original predictions from coming to pass. And of course
the longer the occupation continues we generate more and more
embittered foes to frame this rationalization around, thus creating an
perpetual feedback loop of calamity and self-justification."
Greenwald: "Moyers' documentary is a superb piece of journalism and makes
inescapably clear how profoundly corrupt our dominant political and
media institutions were prior to the invasion. But most national 'journalists' will simply ignore the whole program."
I like the casino at about seven in the morning. For some of the players it's still last night. I want to take the kind of trip to Vegas where I can be one of those people, but it's not that kind of trip for me and I'm gambling at seven in the morning because I'm on east coast time and have to get up to catch a plane anyway.
I suck at gambling at any time of day, although I did pretty well yesterday afternoon at the Hard Rock, where I went intending only to buy Syd a t-shirt but ended up winning at blackjack and also hitting Elijah's number at roulette. Last night at the Bellagio I was me again.
I am not a patient or canny gambler. I drink (although not at seven on a work morning). I chat with other players like a goober and talk to the dealer if there's nobody else there (today I discussed the cultural identity of American Jews with a dealer named Shoshana). I justify all kinds of stupid moves by telling myself That's Why They Call It Gambling, but it rarely appeases the gods of odds.
I got killed all morning by hitting on 12s but I couldn't stop doing it. At last I had to go pack and check out and so I went all in and the dealer dealt me a queen and a two.
You know I tapped that table with every expectation of seeing a nine or at least a freaking eight, although let's face it a six or a seven would have felt pretty good too.
From a fine rant by Nick Carr about truth, knowledge, and the internets:
Whatever happens between Wikipedia and Citizendium, here's what Wales
and Sanger cannot be forgiven for: They have taken the encyclopedia out
of the high school library, where it belongs, and turned it into some
kind of totem of "human knowledge." Who the hell goes to an
encyclopedia looking for "truth," anyway? You go to an encyclopedia
when you can't remember whether it was Cortez or Balboa who killed
Montezuma or when you want to find out which countries border Turkey.
What normal people want from an encyclopedia is not truth but accuracy.
And figuring out whether something is accurate or not does not require
thousands of words of epistemological hand-wringing. If it jibes with
the facts, it's accurate. If it doesn't, it ain't. One of the reasons
Wikipedia so often gets a free pass is that it pretends it's in the
truth business rather than the accuracy business. That's bullshit, but
people seem to buy it.
Las Vegas is following its huge boom in hotel/casino construction with another huge boom in hotel/casino construction. There are cranes and gestating megaproperties everywhere. Another reminder that the house always wins.
I'm at the Monte Carlo, because that's where corporate travel put me. It's nice enough in a bland kind of way, you can get a good steak downstairs. It's close to a lot of things, although not to the place I have to be today.
Kelefa Sanneh in the NYT: "[T]he anti-hip-hop fervor of the last few weeks has been extraordinary, if not quite unprecedented."
More: "Once upon a time, such lyrics (if they had been disseminated) might
have been denounced for their moral turpitude, but now they’re more
likely to be denounced for their sexism. Both verdicts are probably
correct, and each says something about mainstream society’s shifting
priorities and taboos. Maybe dirty jokes never change, only the soap
Kicker: "What if the controversial lyrics quieted down, but the problems didn’t? What if hip-hop didn’t matter that much, after all?"
So far it looks like a cheap way to get to Columbus, Ohio, and then spend the night (you have to factor that in your cost, which the N&R article doesn't do) before taking a cheap flight to a place close to a place you might want to go.
The US Attorney story is not just the tale of another inept crony holding an important job in the Bush administration, it involves the alleged politicization of government in ways that should concern real conservatives. The Office of Special Counsel wants to know more.
LAT: [T]he Office of Special Counsel is preparing to jump into one of the most
sensitive and potentially explosive issues in Washington, launching a
broad investigation into key elements of the White House political
operations that for more than six years have been headed by chief
strategist Karl Rove.
The new investigation, which will examine the firing of at least one
U.S. attorney, missing White House e-mails, and White House efforts to
keep presidential appointees attuned to Republican political
priorities, could create a substantial new problem for the Bush White
...the inquiry comes from inside the administration, not from Democrats in
Congress...unlike the splintered inquiries being pressed on
Capitol Hill, it is expected to be a unified investigation covering
many facets of the political operation in which Rove played a leading
Blue NC is knicker-twisted over Heath Shuler's impending appearance with a bunch of conservatives at a conservative conference hosted by a conservative organization that presumably is infested with conservative cooties.
But Shuler's job isn't to represent just liberals or Democrats, his job is to represent his district in western North Carolina, and he doesn't need to speak only to an echo chamber to do that. I admire his willingness to reach out and engage all kinds of people, and to represent his views and his district in all kinds of places.
Shuler used to stand in the pocket and take big hits, and he's played plenty of road games. He can probably handle this one.
Among the top 25 hedge fund managers, the average compensation last year was $570 million.
Much of that income may not be taxed anytime soon: "A lot of the hedge fund managers earning the astronomical paychecks
making headlines these days are able to postpone paying taxes on much
of that income for 10 years or more."
Richard Cizik, vice president for governmental affairs of the National Association of Evangelicals: "A new moral awakening is sweeping our land. It's a re-awakening to the
heart of the Gospel ethic: to steward the natural world in order to
preserve for ourselves and future generations a beautiful, rich, and
healthy environment. It is 'revision-ing' our lives. Taking part in 'Earth Day' is a response to this new calling."
RussellSimmons wants entertainment companies to "voluntarily remove/bleep/delete the misogynistic words 'bitch' and 'ho' and the racially offensive word 'nigger'" from the music they produce, play, and sell.
Which is to say, he wants to treat the symptoms.
Same thing applies to the no-snitch story done by 60 Minutes last night.
I said it yesterday: "The lyrics and the popularity of the genre aren't happening in a vacuum; they reflect something about the realities of a larger culture that is coarse, consumerist and often violent."