Baseball Crank
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.

Well, thank you, Dr. Insight. Hey guys--let's stop arguing about the death penalty, and make it so no one ever commits heinous murders!

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.

*Instapundit quotes Howard Kurtz:

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.

Michael Crowley of the New Republic said in his blog that "while for all practical purposes this is indisputably a Republican scandal, the narrow liberal-blogger definition of whether any Democrats took money 'from Abramoff' -- which neatly excludes contributions he directed his clients to make -- amounts to foolish semantics.''

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).

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:38 AM | Blog 2006-14 | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

Whatever else you may choose to think about him, Spitzer certainly is not lacking in spine. I imagine alienating traditional Democratic power brokers is also partly a calculated move on his part.

Posted by: Jerry at January 25, 2006 11:30 AM

Jerry, was this Whitehead fiasco one of Elliot's calculated moves as well? Langone, Grasso, and Greenberg are going to take him to mat. Regarding NYC politics, making any enemy of a Rangel or a Sharpton is not a Sister Souljah moment. It's foolish.

Posted by: abe shorey at January 25, 2006 7:54 PM

I have not read up on this incident, but I don't think Spitzer is in much danger of losing the nomination, and if he gets it he is in almost no danger of losing the election. I don't know if he is being calculating or just being himself (like Giuliani, he can make enemies without really breaking a sweat, even among people on his side), but I do think there is a political upside for him to ruffling feathers among the NY Democratic establishment.

Posted by: Jerry at January 25, 2006 11:31 PM

Geez, talk about a "plantation". Do Rangel, et. al. think that they control the careers of all African-American politicians?

Speaking of plantations, NY's Senate has been controlled by the GOP and its House by the Dems since the beginning of time, and both parties like it that way. They have a record as one of the nation's most undistinguished legislature's. I don't know why anyone who has flourished in that snake pit is considered a great candidate for statewide office.

Sharon Waxman's threat to "burn" the PR guy who wouldn't cooperate with her sounds like a nonviolent Mafia tactic (or something that Giuliani or Spitzer would do to an uncooperative broker). Talk about arrogance.

Posted by: jimbo at January 26, 2006 6:18 AM
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