• Last Goodbye

    Well, that's all for me, folks. (For real this time.) My general parting thoughts are already recorded here ; read them if so inclined. In the meantime, I want to thank Ezra again for being such a gracious and encouraging host, and everyone who's read/commented on/linked to my posts for really helping me sharpen and focus my thoughts. It was a great time. By the same token, I hope I've helped shed some non-zero amount of light on this crazy world of ours. If so, I'll be blogging away the rest of my days over at Politics and War . Y'all stop by and comment some time, y'hear? Incidentally, I'm sometimes asked why my blog is called "Politics and War." While it is about politics, and occasionally about war, the name actually comes from my favorite political quote: I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce and...
  • White Rice?

    This development seems to have eluded most of the blogosphere, but apparently our new public face in the Middle East looks like an angry transvestite . But seriously, folks. Here’s what worries me about this: During Bush’s first term, liberals generally lamented his effective neutering of Colin Powell. I can’t remember how many articles I read that contained the phrase "…Condoleezza Rice when he wants to send a serious message." With Rice at State, I think a lot of people assumed that the Secretary of State and The Person Bush Uses To Send Serious Messages would finally be the same person. So far, that has been the case, and the results have been…well, vastly improved. (Witness the 100% reduction in wars!) What worries me about Hughes is that she could undo this synergy. By all accounts, Bush and Rice are close, but Bush and Hughes are closer. And as far as I can tell, the job to which Hughes has been appointed is explicitly about sending messages, in a region of the world where...
  • MD Senate: Kweisi For You

    As I suspected, Kweisi Mfume’s hat is in the ring . I have to say, even if Steele runs for and wins the GOP nomination, this may not be the old-school/new-school fight I’d been hoping for. Mfume’s opening salvos are distinctly Obamaesque: "My goal is to give a new voice to the issues that affect every-day working men and working women and the families that they are a part of," Mfume said during a late morning press conference in a lounge at Camden Yards, where he was joined by five of his six sons. … He said his campaign would focus on "overcrowded and ill-equipped schools," health-care costs and disparities and fighting "low expectations" for some youths. I am officially pleased. I like Mfume a lot, and in a race where the Democrat is a heavyish favorite anyway, this kind of rhetoric should make him more than competetive. - Daniel A. Munz
  • Use/Mention and the War on Secularism

    Commenter Boethius asks : "Science classes might not need the story about "the two naked kids with the apple" but how about literature classes?" This is actually something I've wondered about for a while. Suppose for a moment that some monolithic "The Left" and "The Right" got together, and The Left proposed a deal: Creationism/ID would be kept out of science curricula, but in exchange, every literature curriculum would be modified to include extensive study of the Bible. Personally, I'd be amenable to this. The Bible is, after all, probably the most important and influential text in the history of Western civilization. My preference would be for additional study of the Torah (i.e. not just the New Testament), Qur'an, and other religious texts, but let’s say for a moment that those aren’t dealbreakers. Would The Right take the deal? My instinct is "No," and here’s why. I, like Ezra , am no Matt Yglesias. But I do dabble in enough philosophy to be familiar with something called the use...
  • Yes On Bolton

    Sorry, Ezra . The dream is dead : Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel said on Monday he would support John Bolton to be the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, likely clearing the way for Senate confirmation of the long-time critic of the world body. Hagel of Nebraska was the only Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who had declined to say whether he would back Bolton, currently under secretary of state for arms control. His support removes a possible obstacle to Bolton's nomination advancing to the full Senate. I guess we're not the only ones who know there's an election coming up. And, it wasn't even the "up-or-down boilerplate" you rightly predicted: After meeting with Bolton on Monday, Hagel issued a statement of support. "His experience and knowledge will serve him well as he represents America's interests in the U.N. at a critically important time," Hagel said. Yeeeesh. - Daniel A. Munz

    Cheap Shot: Is it me, or is Jenna Bush dating the kid from Deliverance ? - Daniel A. Munz
  • Scientists Named Steve

    PZ Myers is going to love this one .
  • Fly Our Unfriendly Skies

    I know this is going to come as a galloping shock, but it turns out that our commercial air travel is still vulnerable to terrorism : U.S. aviation remains vulnerable to attack and groups such as al Qaeda may try to target non-commercial planes and helicopters, the New York Times reported, citing a confidential government report. The report by the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security says the aviation industry is a tempting target for acts of terrorism due to the spectacular nature of such attacks, the Times said on Monday. My first instinct here was to attack Bush. And he certainly deserves attack. He’s failed to do about a million simple things you could do to make air travel safer, such as rectifying John Kerry’s much-ballyhooed accusation that we only check about 2% of cargo containers civilians get onto aircraft, and their luggage is X-rayed, but the cargo hold is not. But then, another thought occurred to me: Of course we’re still vulnerable to terror. What else would we...
  • Don't Bless Us, We'll Bless You

    More from TNR : Gregg Easterbrook has a nice, if awkwardly premature, obituary for Pope John Paul II . I’ve always liked JP2, and the article contains some interesting facts about his life, including this: Born in 1920, Wojtyla was a university student when the Nazis invaded Poland; he joined an underground movement that kept learning alive during the Nazi darkness by holding university classes in secret and sometimes performed as an actor in plays staged in secret. I did not know that. It certainly explains his modern-seeming attitudes towards acknowledging Holocaust victims, advocating against the USSR, etc. But there was one aspect of the Pope’s modernizing influence that just leapt out at me: John Paul II moved the Church toward rationalism and reconciliation with science; he was the first pope to say that he believed Darwin’s theory of evolution. Huh. Is it me, or did this sort of coincide with religious conservatives’ attempts to inject creationism into public schools? Obviously...
  • The Hegel Factor

    I think Ezra gets it just about all right in his attempt to understand the mystery that is Chuck Hagel. As far as I can tell, Ezra thinks that Hagel’s biggest challenge will be finding a "constituency for a sober foreign policy realist." This may be true, but I think it’s part of a much bigger problem for Chuck Hagel: G.W.F. Hegel. Of course, Hegel won’t be running for president. But his shadow will be hanging all over the GOP primary. A while back, TNR’ s Jeffrey Herf explained how Condi Rice in particular, and the Bush admin in general, have adopted a troublingly Hegelian view of history : The idea that a decision cannot be judged at the moment but only retrospectively opens a slippery slope of justification. The future Secretary of State was indulging an understanding of politics favored by advocates of a Hegelian view of history—most of whom have, in the last century, been communists. … The capacity of history to absolve political actors is a cynical and immoral doctrine. No one...