Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
January 25, 2006
BLOG: Quick Links 1/25/06
*Eliot Spitzer picks a running mate who is popular, African-American and disabled (he's blind), and still manages to run afoul of Charles Rangel and other self-appointed NY City Democratic power brokers. (Via NRO). You can debate whether this says more about (1) Spitzer's abrasive personality, (2) the endless demands and elephantine egos of guys like Rangel, or (3) why it's so hard for the NY City Democratic party to produce leaders with a spine (the results of which are on garish display every four years in the mayoral elections). Spitzer will be the next governor pretty much no matter what, but it's instructive to watch how easily he alienates even his own allies.
*Characteristically brilliant Megan McArdle analysis of the chimerical connection between abortion and sex education:
Now is the time of year when William Saletan tells us that we should stop arguing about abortion and just keep women from getting pregnant in the first place.
Read the whole thing.
*This New Republic analysis of the educational crisis facing boys in this country is deeply alarming and a must-read. The suggestion that some sort of implicit or explicit affirmative action may be needed for male students is appalling. The article fingers a number of the likely culprits, from lack of interest in reading to an unduly feminized curriculum. Like it or not, boys thrive on competition and challenges; that needs to be retained as part of the educational process. While the article notes that many of the problems are at the grade-school level, it underscores my conviction that the sexes are better off being separated at the high school level.
I've always wondered why busy lawmakers make so much time for lobbyists, at least when they're not playing golf or being comped at Signatures, and gradually I realized: They envision themselves, a few years down the road, in the same role. After all, half the former members of Congress--half!--are now earning many times their Hill salaries by trying to persuade their ex-colleagues to fund a Bridge to Nowhere or some equivalent measure.
I mostly regard lobbying reform as a pointless sham, since the real issue is at the macro level - the power to hand out special interest favors, power that attracts corruption - and the micro level, the specific cases of corrupted officials. But this is one systemic issue that needs to be addressed. It's perhaps not as dire as the similar problem of ex-diplomats being systematically bought off by the Saudis, but as long as members of Congress have in mind the possibility of staying in DC as part of the lobbying class, their incentives will be deeply skewed.
*I've been disappointed with John McCain' stance on the NSA intercepts issue, and while I agreed with him on the problem I was distressed by his solution on the treatment of detainees. But this Mark Levin column is typical of the overwrought teeth-gnashing McCain inspires in some quarters of the Right. McCain has many flaws, but being "soft on defense" is not one of them.
*Cathy Seipp ticks off some NY Times reporters by blogging about what they wrote to her (via Matt Welch). Very entertaining stuff. I do think it's mildly unsporting to write about the fact that a journalist is working on an as-yet-unpublished story, but journalists of all people are fools if they think anything they say is off the record, and expecting sources to keep quiet permanently is absurd.
*Mark Kilmer notes this Washington Post column by the Post's ombudsman, detailing the campaign of abuse directed at her by lefty blogs over the distinction between direct and indirect contributions made by Jack Abramoff. As I pointed out before in linking to this Jon Henke post (see also here), the distinction is noteworthy but (a) hardly as conclusive as the Democrats would like, and (b) inconsistently applied by the Dems themselves. If you hear Democrats and liberal blog commenters calling people liars for saying Democrats got Abramoff-tainted money, well, they're just full of it, especially if they're simultaneously steamed about indirect ties between Abramoff and President Bush or other Republicans. WaPo explains:
Records from the Federal Election Commission and the Center for Public Integrity show that Abramoff's Indian clients contributed money to 195 Republicans and 88 Democrats between 1999 and 2004. The Post also has copies of lists sent to tribes by Abramoff with his personal directions on which members were to receive what amounts.
Crowley has it right. Abramoff was a Republican in a Republican-run city, and this is mainly a Republican scandal. But suggesting that a number of Democrats aren't also associated with Abramoff is just false. And - lest we forget - corrupt ties between Indian gambling interests, campaign contributions and Washington politicians didn't exactly begin in 2001 (see here and here for details).