|View From a Height
Commentary from the Mile High City
Friday, May 30, 2003
Now that Yasser, wants your baby, Arafat, don't mean maybe, has re-inserted himself into the "peace" process, delaying the Sharon-Abbas summit just to show who's boss, the whole thing begins to look a lot less like momentum towards peace a more like the kind of momentum that carries you off the cliff. We've been this way with Arafat before, and if he needs to approve anything Abbas comes knocking on his door with (not too hard, though; the building might collapse), there's really no point in continuing. The US and Israel have invested a tremendous amount of capital in sidelining the Butcher of Ramallah, and for good reason. Letting him back into the game will just mean more Jews getting killed. Probably more Palestinians, too. The fact is, Arafat still controls the executive, and, as in most dictatorships of the Arab flavor, Presidents make the rules, and Prime Ministers look pretty. Arafat has served notice that this part of the game isn't over yet.
As long as there's someone playing good-cop/bad-cop, there's a State Department willing to play Criminal Intent. One of the excuses we've heard is that we need to give Abbas concessions to strengthen his hand against Arafat. Now we've heard this before. We need to help the Soviet "moderates" against the Soviet "hard-liners." We need to help the Iranian "reformers" so they'll be stronger against the "hard-line" mullahs. We need to help a conciliatory Arafat against the radical - , oh, um, yeah.
The problem with this reasoning is that the other side knows perfectly well what it is you're doing. They know that the reason they got, say, Hebron, is because you want Abbas to look good, and so they'll finally turn around and dump Yasser into Galilee and hold his head under. They know this, because you've told them so. The problem for them is, then what? What about after Yasser's been sent to the great beyond? Then, you've got what you want, so you don't have to give in any more, and you can play hardball.
But they know that, too. And it's obvious then that Abbas didn't win anything, Arafat won the concessions. At the very least, he's useful to have around as a threat; at worst, he's able to re-establish himself as the real power in the terror-tories. We worked hard to throw Arafat overboard because we didn't think we could deal with him, and because he had too much blood on his hands. We only got a Prime Minister, able to appoint, in theory, his own cabinet, because we said we weren't talking at all until they installed one. And we got the Palestinians to approve the Road Map, flawed as it is, by refusing to talk until they did. Now, if it turns out that Arafat is still behind the curtain, all of that will have been for naught. And we'll be right back to the same old game of watching Arafat pocket real concessions for false words. Only this time, you can barely see his lips move.
The Washington Post has a neat little Java applet on their SARS page (this morning it's about how Canada is quarantining 5000 more people; at this rate, it'll be the Blue Jays, not the Expos, that move to DC).
Wednesday, May 28, 2003
So, we're wrapping up the MIS course here in business school, and we're taking a look at the future technologies. For some reason, when discussing biological interaction, the professor brings up the iNax toilet, which will, should you choose, invade your internals and report your blood pressure, alcohol content, temperature, and who knows what else. This is scary. Oh, sure. You're probably thinking what all those authors of 1950's science fiction had in mind: robots serving drinks and doing the laundry; automatic mixing of you high-blood pressure medication with the drinking water; Mom and Dad interrupting their argument over his affair and her make-up to run upstairs at the silent alarm that says Timmy's at 102. Right.
Israel has taken over the rotating chairmanship of the UN Conference on Disarmament (this was the conference that Iraq was to have chaired; the rotation is alphabetical). A number of Muslim countries, with the notable inclusion of Egypt and the notable exception of Turkey, have chosen to sit thi month out, with chair empty and low-level officials skulking around the back of the hall. Ostensibly, their boycott is in protest of Israel's refusal to leave itself defenseless. The Israeli chairman called for "dialogue and acceptance."
Tuesday, May 27, 2003
We should have seen this one coming. Canada bullied the WHO into saying that everything in Toronto was just fine. Then, new cases, and 500 Canadians quarantined. Canadian officials, evidently having recently graduated from the Peking School of Public Relations, informed the world that everything is all right. And now, the Washington Post reports that 1400 people are in quarantine, and the WHO has put Toronto back on notice.
Meet the New Yasser, Same as the old Yasser
Saturday, May 24, 2003
Tomorrow's Washington Post describes what can only be a step forward in our plans for dealing with Iran. Since it appears that Iranian-based al Queda units were involved in the Saudi bombings, we've given up trying to "engage" the mullahs, and have decided to support the Iranian people in their efforts to banish them back to Qom.
In the first place, the State Department had damned well better accept any policy the President chooses. They don't get not to accept a policy. Secondly, they consistently underestimate pro-American feelings in countries with regimes that don't like us, and over-estimate anti-American sentiment in countries with regimes that are friendly. Also, with people marching on the anniversary of the Shah's installation waving American flags, I think it's already clear who the reformers identify with. Funny how they're never concerned that payoffs to Egypt and Jordan will discredit us there.
When you grow up watching Virginia sports, you get used to disappointment. Quickly. Usually not the Red Sox style, coming-from-two-runs-up-in-the-10th-to-lose, disappointment. More like the Chicago Cubs, 93rd-year-of-their-rebuilding-program, style of disappoinment. There is no next year. After each touchdown, the Tradition was for the student body to sing the "Good Old Song." Concerned that this happened infrequently enough that the students might forget the words, they printed them on the beer cups. I remember a regular-season game against Navy. The next day, the Post offered the following comfort to Cavalier fans:
On the rare occasion that Virginia did make it to the Big Game, they usually made sure you got a good seat at the restaurant. They won the 1976 ACC tournament, and promptly lost to DePaul in the first round of the NCAA. The 1981 semifinal against Carolina was over at halftime. They were the last NCAA Division I-A team to go to a bowl game. In 1990, the rode a weak first-half schedule and a series of fluky losses by teams ranked ahead of them to a #1 football ranking for about 13 minutes and a trip to the Sugar Bowl. (This travesty later prompted a rule change by the NCAA.) In New Orleans, they blew a 20-point lead to Tennessee. The couldn't even lose right. When my dad was in school there, they tied Kansas's 27-game record losing streak in football. When they finally won, students were heard to ask the players why they couldn't go ahead and break the record.
Friday, May 23, 2003
Compare the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times today on how Bush got his tax cut through, and it's like night and day. The Times credits appeals to supporting the President in wartime. What? I don't think I heard, even from the Mike Gallaghers and Sean Hannitys anything like that about the tax cut. The WSJ credits smart politics, persistence, Vice President Cheney, and tough negotiating. That's why we read the WSJ.
Thursday, May 22, 2003
In the meantime, the Rocky is reporting that convicted arsonist Terry Barton is mad at the judge. Apparently, he was forced out of his home by the fire, and pitched in to help fight it. Ms. Barton's attorney's think this constitutes too close an involvement in the case.
The Denver Post comes out against a suit by - you guessed it - the teachers union - against Colorado's new vouchers law. The lawsuit is based on Colorado's Blaine Amendment, and the US Supreme Court is probably going to rule on the Constitutionality of those sorts of amendments this year. The law is targeted only at poor kids at bad schools. The CEA could not have picked a better case to discredit their position.
Tuesday, May 20, 2003
This afternoon, the Legislative Council of the Colorado Legislature voted to retain counsel for their defense of the new redistricting plan. How this could be otherwise, I have no idea. Nevertheless, the vote was party-line, 4-2.
She's objecting to hiring a Republican lawyer to represent a Republican-controlled legislature to defend a redistricting plan favorable to Republicans against a lawsuit by a Democratic legislator, and another by a Democratic state Attorney General. I can see where she'd be unhappy, but this kind of comment suggests that Ms. Fitz-Gerald had just come from mingling with the constituents on one of those hometown brewery tours.
There are two cases pending here. First, a number of legislative Democrats, unhappy at suddenly having smaller offices with views of the NEA building rather than the mountains, have filed suit against the Secretary of State and the General Assembly. Their claim is, basically, that the Republicans cheated in order to pass an unconstitutional bill. Unless the cheating involved binding and gagging every Democrats on the Hill, nothing was stopping them from shouting "Point of Order," at the time. There certainly is a princple that bodies have to obey their own rules. When agencies mess this up, there are administrative courts. When courts get it wrong, there are appeals courts. To the best of my knowledge, there is no Court of Parliamentary Procedure outside the legislative body itself, and the Body Itself is responsible for getting this stuff right at the time.
Legislators go to court, on rare occasion, to challenge the constitutionality of acts they voted against. Mitch McConnell is a plaintiff in a case challenging the gag rule known as McCain-Feingold. They may not get the use of public funds to do it, though, because they were already representing the public when they voted and lost. In this case, the General Assembly finds itself being sued, it certiainly ought to be able to find money in the budget to show up in court.
The legislature finds itself in the almost unprecedented position of having to defend its own decisions in court. Now, normally, the Attorney General does this for the state. But in this case, the Attorney General has a case of his own, asking the Supreme Court to overturn a law of the State he represents. To the best of my knowledge, he's not doing this on his own time, or paying for someone to represent him out of his own pocket. In fact, it's hard to see exactly who the Attorney General is representing. It's not the legislature, which passed the law he opposes. It's not the executive, since the Governor singed the bill himself. It's not the judge who imposed the current plan. It looks to me as though the Attorney General is representing the Democratic representatives in a previous session of the Colorado legislature. So if he gets state money to file a suit defending the rights of people who aren't even serving anymore, why on earth should the sitting legislature not get the benefit of counsel?
It would be foolish to deny the partisan aspect of this case. But that argues in favor of having a Republican attorney. After all, we've seen what Democrats behave like when they get anywhere near this case.
Monday, May 19, 2003
Tomorrow's Washington Post reports that President Bush is under a great deal of pressure to continue the Clinton Policy of pressuring Israel for concessions, never mind what the Palestinians do. The article contains this telling paragraph:
Evidently some people are worried that if enough Jews die, President Bush may regain his moral clarity on the issue. I wouldn't hazard a guess as to which cabinet-level department these people work for. But if they're concerned about outside pressure relenting, they needn't worry. I don't think there's ever been a time when "Europe" wasn't pressing Israel to surrender.
Surprise! The Arab media blames Israel for being attacked. This is news? Evidently, one Jefferson Morley has been given the task of ignoring The Indispensible MEMRI and wading through the reams of Arab Jew-hatred himself. (The column is called "World Opinion Roundup," but, just like World Opinion, it seems to spend a disproportionate amount of time rounding up Arab opinion.) The only newspapers that get any sort of label are the "conservative" Jerusalem Post and the "liberal" Ha'Aretz. The Arab News is quoted as though it were just another newspaper, which, I guess, for Arabs it is.
Terry McAuliffe has accused the President of "McCarthyism," his words, not mine. Over at Powerline, Hindraker notes that it's odd that McAuliffe would try to call the kettle black. But this, too, is typical Clintonian politics.
At the same time, the Chief District Judge Norma Holloway Johnson was bypassing the random computer process for a number of other embarassing cases, all of which somehow ended up in her hands [Washington Post, August 5, 1999]. By late March of 2000, Congress was interested in this peculiarity.
Sunday, May 18, 2003
Let's take Wal-Mart a step further. Let's suppose that only a few people are complaining, and that Wal-Mart is responding to those complaints out of an institutional bias towards conservatism, and, maybe, a little Southern Baptist puritanism. Well, geez, it's their store! If the shareholders have a problem with this, they can bring it up at the next annual meeting, or sell their shares.
Part of the reason Wal-Mart gets hit with this stuff is its perceived power. It does tend to run off competition with their economies of scale, and this is perceived as a narrowing of choice in general. There is some truth to that.
Smaller niche stores do tend to get run out of business because they can't compete on price on the 80% of their sales that Wal-Mart carries. Since Wal-Mart is never going to carry the other 20%, I, as a collector or specialist, have to resort to more distant sources, and usually pay more. This also inevitably leads to a consolidation of whatever market we're talking about. But it also means that as I spend an increasing amount of time in Wal-Mart, as they enter more and more business lines, I am less likely even to see items that Wal-Mart doesn't carry.
Now, browsing the aisles is harder on-line, and it wouldn't surprise me if it raised the entry bar for certain hobbyists. If I've been doing, say, needlepoint for a year or so, and want to get some more exotic patterns or colors or whatever it is that defines A+ quality needlepoint from the Home-Sweet-Home cross-stitch you see in every sitcom kitchen, I may have to go online. I can't wander into Wal-Mart and ask the local "associate." And the store I would have gone to is gone.
And now for something completely different.
Walk For Israel
Well, nobody's ever going to accuse Federation of an excess of common sense. (Insert obligatory words about all the good work Federation does here.) After last year's tremendous success, we were expecting a fair turnout this year, but Federation decided to charge $18 to walk, and then threatened to bodily pull people out of the march who hadn't registered. The first helped keep the numbers down (nothing like raising prices in a recession), and the second disspated a fair amount of goodwill. Federation tried to pull stunts like this all the time. First, they show they don't know how to play well with others, and then they show they don't want to. We still got good numbers, and both surviving mayoral candidates (that's Mares on the left, Hickenlooper on the right).
The Rocky Mountain News, however, tells you how to apply.
As Colorado's new concealed-carry law goes into effect, the two newspapers in town have two different stories. The lead in the Denver Post shows why math professors shouldn't be making public policy. One CU prof, with more schooling than education, "used to think of the University of Colorado campus as a "safe zone" because its no-guns policy was so strictly enforced." Right. I'm sure that had Columbine found a toothpick in a 9th-grader's locker, they'd have sent him home for a week, demanding to know what kind of food he was eating. Are there any reports, any reports of campus police making random sweps through classrooms? No, because the campus civil libertarians would only allow it if the police were given blinders to make sure they couldn't see any of the books they were carrying. I'm sure he figured that the UN could keep Saddam in check, too.
Friday, May 16, 2003
A couple of follow-up notes to Monday's protest at the synagogue. First, the behavior of the ADL was despicable. The regional director came out, and basically accused us of provoking a confrontation that would lead to headlines. Whereas if we hadn't show up, all that would have happened would have been that Jews would have been verbally abused and physically threatened nose-to-nose rather than from across the street. A couple of weeks ago he wrote a letter to the Intermountain Jewish News basically accusing the governor of being anti-Semitic for supporting school vouchers. That's like accusing Dave Winfield of needing a hunting license to play the outfield in Toronto. The fact is, lots of Jews support vouchers, and before you say, "well, lots of Jews oppose settlements," remember that large number of dictatorial regimes haven't hijacked major international bureaucracies into spending nights and weekends figuring out ways to fix our 3rd grade history textbooks. Everyone knows that singling out Israel is bad, because about 90% of the governments not located in Europe or the Americas are worse. The ADL may believe that vouchers will disproportionately damage Jews, somehow, but that's different from intentionally targeting Jews. We can have a civil discussion about vouchers without calling people who support them, such as myself, anti-Semites. Still, it's good to know that he's got his priorities straight, even if it doesn't leave him time to confront actual Jew-hatred.
Wednesday, May 14, 2003
One other interesting tidbit. 19 hijackers. 19 people in the Saudi cell responsible for the car bombings. 19 is a major numerical theme of Farrakhan's MMM speech.
The filibuster debate also reminds me of a similar problem in the US House of Representatives in 1889. No, I wasn't around then, and neither was the versatile Barbara Tuchman. But she tells a story better than just about any historian I know, and told the story of one of the great transformative periods in Western history, 1894-1914, in vignettes from each of the major powers. Two of the chapters in The Proud Tower concern legislative refrom - the House of Lords giving up the veto, and the House of Representatives changing its quorum rules. The latter is especially instructive.
It's a colorful story, full of chaos, parliamentary maneuver, Democrats trying to leave and being physically restrained, and so forth. And not without risk to Speaker Reed, who wasn't sure even his own party would support him. But in the end, the moral is the same: the majority cannot be tyrannous, but must still be able to vote.
The current discussion of "going nuclear" by the Senate Republicans isn't unprecedented. The Washington Times recalls the same vote happening in 1975, by Democrats, to reduce the cloture requirements from 67 to 60 votes. The issues then were the same as now: an obstructionist minority, and some in the majority fearful of the repercussions. Among those worried: Senator Robert Byrd, back before he went nuts. Among those for the change: Pat Leahy and Ted Kennedy. I guess where you stand depends on where you sit.
By now, we know that the Saudi Police, given a repreive from confining schoolgirls to burning buildings, had found this terror cell and arrested, or tried to arrest them. This is just conjecture, but is it possible that they were allowed to escape? Not as a matter of official policy necessarily, but by one or more of the arresting officers. To me, it just seems unlikely that 19 guys managed to walk away, or even drive away, from a firefight with police who were serious about arresting them. Given that this is Saudi Arabia we're talking about, concern for human life probably wasn't the officers' most pressing concern.
Tuesday, May 13, 2003
I have no idea if this is normal, but something tells me it's not. Both here and in Texas, the Democrats in the state legislature last year failed to pass a redistricting plan, instead turning the job over to a Democratic judge. There, as here, the Republicans won outright control of the legislative and executive branches, and are pushing through their versions of the plan. There, unlike here, the Democrats have fled the state to avoid a quorum. (Here they're just planning to litigate again.)
Almost as unfortunate was the behavior of the ADL. Without our presence there, people going into the conference, including Holocaust survivors, would have been subjected to being shouted at and being called Nazis. The local head of the ADL came out to castigate us for making a scene. In fact, we neither called the media, nor created the scene. The only thing we did was create a presence, so the conference-goers could go in and out in peace.
Last night, the ADL and AIPAC hosted a public education meeting at one of the local synagogues, Rodef Shalom. The worst elements turned out to protest the event, and here they are. We did form a counter demo, so the police kept them on their side of the street, and we kept to ours. Although, as is typical of these "peaceful" folk, three times one of them crossed over to our side. A couple of things to notice about the picture below:
We spent the evening singing Hatikvah and making fun of them. At one point, they started the thuggish chant "No Justice, No Peace." Joe, a real firebrand in his 60s, started chanting it back at them, and for a few moments, both sides were chanting the same thing. Eventually, they scratched their heads and stopped.
Saturday, May 10, 2003
Michael Wilbon continues stumpingf or Michael Jordan in today's Washington Post, arguing that black fans, at some level, have a right to feel angry about the way Jordan says he was treated. In the last two days, Sally Jenkins has written persuasively (here and here) that Pollin was right to let Jordan go, that he didn't owe him anything more than a business decision, and that Jordan had alienated practically everyone in the organization without noticeably improving the team.
Friday, May 09, 2003
One of the keystone's of Karl Rove's strategy for a Republican majority is the redrawing of Congressional boundaries to favor incumbents. Now, it takes two to tango, and the Democrats have seized on this just as eagerly as the Republicans, to be sure, often cutting deals in states where they thought seats were at risk. However, here in Colorado, the new 7th District's lines were drawn by a judge, with an eye towards partisan "competitiveness," a heretofore unknown standard for electoral boundaries. Republican Bob Beauprez won the seat by 121 votes last year, and now the Republican in the State Capitol want to redraw the lines, adding Republican precincts to pad their lead. Redistricting has always been an inherently partisan process, and never even got legislative approval the last time, so it's hard to argue that the Republicans are morally wrong in the specific case. The downside is that virtually all 7 Congressional seats will be safe seats for one party or another.
Maybe campaign money matters less at the retail level. With 43% of the vote, John Hickenlooper spent about $6 per vote. Don Mares, who finished second, spent $27 per vote, slightly more than the 5th-place finisher. Ari Zavaras, of the Pena-Webb machine, spent over $70 per vote to finish a distant third. And like the Baltimore Orioles of the late 90s, Phil Perington poured money into a campaign, spending almost $90 per vote, to finish dead last.
One standard way for the government to reduce overhead and get work done more quickly, is to issue short-term, no-bid contracts for specific jobs. These are almost always for small amounts of money, but they can add up over time, and are certainly more subject to political abuse. City Auditor-turned-mayoral candidate Don Mares has made these contracts a campaign issue, specifically attacking the practice of issuing them, and specifically attacking several of his rivals for receiving them. Now, inevtiably, it turns out that Mr. Mares himself received a no-bid contract when he was a private lawyer. The amount was small: no more than $12,500, and he was eventually paid a little over $10K. This hardly constitutes graft. He clearly hasn't made or built a career off of this sort of work, and scale does make a difference.
I've been in Denver for 6 years now, and I've never been able to follow the city's politics very closely. But I did remember the name of one Councilman, Susan Barnes-Gelt, who's been wrong on just about everything I've ever seen her quoted on, from parking to taxes to the war (yes, the war) to off-lease areas for dogs. The only downside to term limits is that it deprived me of a chance to vote against her.
Thursday, May 08, 2003
Amidst all the talk of "Imperialism," I believe some lines are being blurred, in all likelihood unintentionally. Just as, in Medieval Europe, there was no one system called "feudalism" that completely defined its political and social structure, there are also different varieties of "imperialism," even within its prime. Different countries practiced different forms at the same time, and the same power practiced different forms at different times. In addition, Americans have embedded, deep in their political culture, a notion that we're like the Romans, a Republican power that eventually mutated into an Imperium. We neither want to be 19th-Century Europeans, or 2nd-Century Romans. It is important, therefore, that we pick the right model for what we're now engaged in, so we can avoid the pitfalls inherent in that model, and emulate its successes.
Wednesday, May 07, 2003
Looks like I'm going to be on a new game show for the Food Network, called "Trivia Unwrapped." It seems to be loosely based on their show, "Unwrapped," that talks about things like the ultimate cocktail and the story behind Dreyer's Ice Cream. They had two rounds of tryouts - all in Denver - and are filming their year's worth of weekly shows during May. They said they had two reasons for filming in Denver: 1) it's cheaper than LA, and 2) there's apparently a subculture of people in LA who go around appearing on game shows, and they wanted people who were just happy to be there.
I don't normally write about the dog. He's a lab, but I usually assume he's a lot like other dogs, and, like other people's children, would get real boring real fast. But this morning, he showed a ability to learn on his own that surprised me. For at four years old, I also assumed his thinking days were over.
You know, it looks to me like the President is wearing a full flight suit as he gets out of the plane at the Lincoln. These things are for safety, even though they look really cool, too. They're watertight, somewhat insulated (in the unlikely event of a water landing), protects against sudden loss of cabin pressure, and oh, restrict the blood flow to prevent pooling in the event of sudden G-forces. Given the pre-flight inspection this plane certainly got, these are all unlikely contingencies. But there's no point in being a fool. Can you imagine the catastrophe if an accident had occurred, and a flight suit would have saved the President's life? How dumb would that have been?
Tuesday, May 06, 2003
The Fed is concerned about possible deflation, but still wants to leave itself room to lower interest rates more. Fair enough. But what does this say about Greenspan's opposition to tax cuts? There are only a couple of tools in the Federal Government's toolbag - interest rates and tax rates. (I know there's spending, but haven't we learned that lesson?) If we're not going to use one, we pretty much have to use the other.
Just finished Back Home, and I'd have to say it was something of a disappointment. In fact, so does Mauldin at the end of the book. His politics are anti-Communist liberal, but the ideas are much less focused and thought-through. He blames this on being forced to continue cartooning during his readjustment to civilian status, rather than being allowed to refamiliarize himself with American life. Since he also didn't get a chance to have the normal GI-reentry experience, he couldn't even do those cartoons well. We also need to remember that he was still very young.
Monday, May 05, 2003
Over Passover, I read Ross King's Brunelleschi's Dome, about the construction of the Duomo in Florence. It's a magnificent dome, and a pretty good story, too, tying in a number of Renaissance figures, and a long-standing rivalry comparable to anything that the early Federal United States produced. Brunelleschi was brilliant, devising machines to solve extremely tricky engineering problems, executing a bold plan boldly, and winning over the hearts and minds of the Guild paying for the Dome, and the mass of Florentines as well.
Dr. James Dobson has come out with a statement about WJB's alleged "gambling addiction." WJB has admitted no such addiction, just a bad habit. But Dr. Dobson probably knows something about whereof he speaks - Colorado Springs is a short drive away from two of Colorado's small-stakes gambling towns, Cripple Creek and Victor. As one of the short-lived alternative newspapers pointed out a few years ago, the real crime of the gambling industry isn't that it seduces addictive personalities. Small-stakes gambling can take forever to run through any amount of real money. It's that it renovates old buildings in such a way that they can only be used for casinos, and then abandons them for new, larger casinos. So much for saving the historic atmosphere of Central City and Black Hawk.
Jonah Goldberg's G-file today touches on, but doesn't pursue, an interesting point about Bill Bennett's gambling. Since he never gambled the milk money, and never gambled more than he could afford to lose, why isn't this just entertainment? So he stares at a spinning wheel for 3 hours instead of a movie.
The difference between what WJB does, and real gambling, is that they don't expect to win. In fact, Jewish law states that gambling is a form of theft, and refuses to enforce gambling debts on the grounds that the gambler doesn't really expect to lose. But if the gambler doesn't expect to win, then the contract isn't over a bet, but over the entertainment provided. This may sound like a legalistic way of looking at things, but it does capture an important point.
What was WJB's real state of mind? You'd have to ask him. But for a man to gamble that much, and not step over the line by losing the mortgage money once or twice, he must have been pretty stable, and pretty sure he wasn't going to see that money again. I'd certainly be inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt.
Sunday, May 04, 2003
The mayor's race here in Denver is down to brass tacks, with the 7 candidates appearing more or less continuously at candidate forums and debates. They manage to be civil, while still pointing out differences. All 7 are at least respectable, and most even have some good ideas. Sadly, all are Democrats. But the tenor of the race and the quality of the candidates are something to be proud of, and a terrific change from the corrupt Marion Barry and feckless Sharon Pratt Dixon/Kelly I grew up with.
Friday, May 02, 2003
Some evidence that the Chinese may be using the SARS epidemic to cover other, less savory aspects of their rule. While most of the attention has focused on the party's sacking of a couple of officials, the AP reports that the government is banning tourists from Tibet and Western China. Inasmuch as tourists haven't been the main vector for the spread of the disease within China, this is more than a little suspicious. Perhaps we should add "Sickness is Health" to the Orwellian triptych.
Thursday, May 01, 2003
When Bill Mauldin died a few months ago, this space and Powerline mentioned his Up Front, one of the great worm's-eye war memoirs. During the beginning of the Iraq War, I quoted a number of relevant passages. Having just finished a finance exam, and with about an hour to kill, I went browsing in the local used book store here near DU, and found another book by Mr. Mauldin, one about his return to the States and readjustment to civilian life, called Back Home. It'll be interesting to see what it brings.
The question of the day, really the question of the decade, is how hard Abu Mazen is prepared to be on his terrorist confreres. While the early returns aren't encouraging, we shouldn't give up just yet. To those who would say that this is asking too much, I'd remind them that the future stability of the Palestinian State, whatever that may be, relies on energetic action in this area, far more than the security of Israel does.