Michael Barone


September 2005


The pleasures of reading book reviews

I quit reading the New York Times Book Review, the New York Review of Books, and the Washington Post's Book World some years ago, because I got tired of reading tiresome left-wing bilge and long, indulgent reviews of the 19th volume of Virginia Woolf's diaries. I read the Times Literary Supplement

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Who's in the antiwar movement?

Pollster Scott Rasmussen, who had an excellent record in the 2004 cycle and who asks interesting and innovative questions, asked respondents if they consider themselves part of the antiwar movement.

Some 23 percent said they did, and 61 percent said they did not. Among Democrats, 36 percent said ...

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Housing vouchers

Amrit Dhillon of the National Low Income Housing Coalition has called to say that my posting on that organization's support for the housing vouchers proposed by the Bush administration was misleading. Dhillon says that NLIHC has backed housing vouchers since the 1970s. I actually specifically ...

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Prosecutorial discretion

I have written in the past that Republicans have certain structural advantages in our nearly equally divided American politics. George W. Bush carried 31 states that elect 62 of 100 senators, and he carried 255 of 435 congressional districts while winning the popular vote by only 51 to 48 percent.

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The Tom DeLay indictment

Tom DeLay has been indicted in Travis County, Texas, for conspiracy to violate campaign finance laws. Two DeLay political associates had previously been indicted. Under House Republican Party rules, DeLay immediately lost his position as majority leader, and the Associated Press has reported that ...

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Immigration: Some numbers

It's hard to get accurate numbers on immigration, harder than it was 100 years ago. Then almost all immigrants came across the Atlantic and arrived at ports, where they could easily be counted. No one bothered to see how many people crossed the Rio Grande and the Arizona desert, and there could not ...

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At NASA, an Emily Litella moment

Emily Litella, as you may recall, was the character on Saturday Night Live who delivered stirring diatribes until she realized that she had totally misunderstood the issue and then said squeakily, "Never mind." Today's Emily Litella is NASA Administrator Daniel Griffin, who, according to USA Today,

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Random notes

Here is an interesting speech Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick delivered in New York on September 21 on China. Zoellick is not at all shy about advising China on how to conduct its affairs, internationally and domestically.

Polipundit.com blogger Lorie Byrd, a self-described cultural ...

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The politics of abortion

I wrote the other day that if Roe v. Wade were reversed, probably only three jurisdictions—Utah, Louisiana, and Guam—would criminalize abortion. That tends to be supported by the Survey USA poll that shows "pro-life" and "pro-choice" opinion in each state. Utah and Louisiana are Nos. 1 and 2, 61 ...

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Casualties in Iraq

Many people seem to have an emotional investment in the idea that American casualties in Iraq are rising. In fact, as Wretchard of the Belmont Club blog demonstrates, the truth is the opposite: Casualties are down from 2004 to 2005.

Wretchard, actually a Filipino-born Harvard graduate who lives in ...

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Our men in Haiti

The intrepid bloggers of Powerline noted that one of the signs behind Cindy Sheehan at the much (by Mainstream Media) overhyped demonstrations this past weekend against our military involvement in Iraq called for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Haiti. As Powerline blogger John Hinderaker said,

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Strategy in Iraq

Most news stories on the fighting in Iraq concentrate on U.S. casualties. They don't pause to get a look at the larger picture. So here are two pieces that do.

The first is from the Belmont Club blog (see above). Wretchard argues that these operations show a clear strategy: "Whether one is on the ...

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The values debate, Italian-style

Last week I attended a dinner for Marcello Pera, president of the Italian Senate, who spoke earlier at Georgetown University and met with Vice President Cheney and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Pera was a philosophy professor at the University of Pisa; his biography here is in Google ...

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The Middle East

I attended a lunch yesterday at the Nixon Center featuring Dennis Ross, who served in the Bush 41 State Department and was Bill Clinton's chief negotiator in the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. It was a good opportunity to learn more from Ross than I have been able to from his appearances on

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Harvard and the military

Harvard Law School has decided to allow military recruiters to interview students on campus. David Frum in National Review Online presents a good overview of this decision and of Harvard President Lawrence Summers's positive stance on the American military. By the way, Harvard Law School Dean Elena ...

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John McCain

I attended an American Spectator dinner last night featuring John McCain. McCain spent much of the evening casting votes in the Senate, but returned and spoke with impressive energy and at considerable length. He said it was fine if everything was on the record. Those who think that McCain is still ...

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Education schools

American society has many islands of excellence—and many islands of mediocrity. Some of them can be found on the same turf, the campuses of our hundreds of colleges and universities. Among the islands of excellence are the mathematics and physical and biological science departments—the best in the ...

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An intriguing proposal

A longtime public servant with Louisiana roots advances the following idea for financing, at least partially, the post-Katrina recovery in New Orleans. Why not dedicate, he says, the Outer Continental Shelf oil and gas revenues that the federal government gets, and use them as the basis for issuing ...

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All the president's speechwriters

A well-informed source has told me that I erred when I speculated that the speech George W. Bush delivered in Jackson Square in New Orleans on September 15 was the product of former chief speechwriter Michael Gerson.

It was, I am told, a collaborative product, as most of Bush's speeches have been.

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For an Iraqi Permanent Fund

I spoke this morning at a conference organized by the New America Foundation in support of my proposal for the creation of something like the Alaska Permanent Fund in Iraq. The fund, established by the recently deceased Gov. Jay Hammond and the Alaska Legislature in 1978, takes oil royalties and ...

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Germany votes

Electoral democracy thrives. In the last 24 hours, Germany, New Zealand, and Afghanistan have voted. The results in Afghanistan won't be known for some time yet, and I'll leave the analysis of the New Zealand results for others. (Here's a posting on New Zealand from the New Zealand Herald and on ...

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Porkbusters

Glenn Reynolds's Instapundit and blogger N.Z. Bear have started a Porkbusters campaign. The idea is to give up pork barrel projects and leave the money to be spent on recovery from Katrina.

"Identify some wasteful spending in your state or (even better) Congressional District. Put up a blog post on ...

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Bush's speech in New Orleans

Here is the take of former Clinton speechwriter David Kusnet. Kusnet indulges himself with more snarky criticism of Bush than he normally does, but his analysis of the actual speech is, as usual, thoughtful and insightful. He says the speech sounds more like former chief speechwriter Michael Gerson ...

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New Orleans

Longtime Newsday reporter Lou Dolinar has an interesting article on rescue efforts in New Orleans. It turns out that they–federal, state, and local government–were far more effective than we thought. Reason: They were so busy rescuing people they didn't coordinate their efforts and didn't, in most ...

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Judge Roberts

The ever articulate Sen. Charles Schumer issued a statement Thursday on why he is torn on the Roberts nomination. He listed what he described as the pros for Roberts and handsomely acknowledged his brilliance and experience. Then he went into the cons.

"On the con side is the question of compassion ...

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Racial differences of opinion

Here's an uncomfortable subject: Why do black Americans see some issues so totally differently from the way nonblack Americans see them?

The obvious examples before us are the polls that show large majorities of blacks saying that the Bush administration slowed relief to Katrina victims because so ...

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Adam Smith, political pundit

Last night I was reading (actually, rereading) Gertrude Himmelfarb's luminous The Roads to Modernity: The British, French, and American Enlightenments, and came across this quotation from Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations, published in 1776.

"In every civilized society, in every society where the ...

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A note on the Roberts hearings

As I am writing, I am listening to Sen. Edward Kennedy questioning Judge John Roberts. Kennedy seems to be more deferential and less combative than he was yesterday, when Chairman Arlen Specter felt obliged to tell Kennedy to be quiet and let Roberts answer. Today Kennedy is not interrupting ...

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The Dutch contribution to America

This is a terrific piece by Chicago lawyer Michael Lotus, written in response to a posting on this blog. Mr. Lotus is very kind in praising my contribution and then adds much on how the Dutch contribution shaped New York and how New York's character affected the nation as a whole. One commenter ...

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Learning from the Netherlands

There has been surprisingly little mention in the mainstream media of the Netherlands, where 60 percent of the people live on land below sea level. I have noticed just two, both worth reading. Here is Dutch science writer Simon Rozendaal in last Friday's Wall Street Journal. And here is Washington ...

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Louisiana politics

Mary Landrieu, the Democratic senator from Louisiana, appeared on Fox News Sunday and made a total but incoherent defense of the response of Louisiana politicians to Hurricane Katrine. For many links, see thepoliticalteen.net, via www.instapundit.com. Here is Landrieu responding to a question ...

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Folkways

Froma Harrop, a liberal opinion writer, has an interesting article today in the Providence Journal. She compares New York on September 11 (she happened to be there) and New Orleans after Katrina and makes the point that the cultures of the two cities are different.

That got me thinking about the ...

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FEMA Director Michael Brown

This is a very tough article in the New Republic's website on FEMA Director Michael Brown by Paul Campos, a professor at the University of Colorado Law School. Campos has written intelligently about the university's buffoonish "Native American" Prof. Ward Churchill. Here he surveys Brown's legal ...

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New Orleans natives on New Orleans

I'm busy working this morning on my weekly U.S.News & World Report column, so I thought I'd collect and share some of the wonderful articles written about the New Orleans disaster by New Orleans natives and residents.

Nicholas Lemann, dean of the Columbia Journalism School: www.newyorker.com

Quin ...

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Required reading

Required reading (via the invaluable www.realclearpolitics.com):

Nicholas Eberstadt of the American Enterprise Institute in the New York Times on why the poverty rate is "the single worst measure in our government's statistical arsenal." Message: No, the Bush administration isn't thrusting Americans ...

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New Orleans natives on New Orleans

I'm busy working this morning on my weekly U.S.News & World Report column, so I thought I'd collect and share some of the wonderful articles written about the New Orleans disaster by New Orleans natives and residents.

Nicholas Lemann, dean of the Columbia Journalism School: www.newyorker.com

Quin ...

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Notes on Katrina

FEMA Director Michael Brown has been the subject of much criticism for his performance in response to Hurricane Katrina. At least some considerable part of the criticism seems justified. Brown came to the job with minimal experience in emergency management (he used to be the agency's general ...

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How metro New Orleans voted

For those who are interested, here is how metro New Orleans voted in 2004. The totals were calculated from Dave Leip's Election Atlas.

George W. Bush291,66249.8% John Kerry289,11649.3% Total585,911- Orleans Parish voted heavily (77%) for Kerry. But the suburban parishes voted for Bush: Jefferson ...

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Katrina

A valuable resource in assessing what went wrong (and right) in the response to Katrina is this timeline, compiled by blogger Rick Moran from the New Orleans Times-Picayune website.

The best source for New Orleans hurricane insight has been the blog of Brendan Loy, a 23-year-old law student at Notre ...

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The city of New Orleans

Here is my take on the future of New Orleans, in my Creators Syndicate column. My conclusion was that the grain and oil port facilities will be rebuilt—they must be—and that the tourism business will revive. The French Quarter, on relatively high ground, was not damaged as much as most residential ...

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The political fallout

We've read a lot about the short-term partisan political effects of Katrina. But they don't really matter much. President Bush is not running for reelection. Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour do not come up for reelection until 2007. New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin comes ...

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Iran

You have probably been reading in the press stories that even the EU3–Britain, France, and Germany–which have been negotiating with Iran over nuclear installations are dissatisfied with the response of Iran's mullah regime and are considering referring the matter to the United Nations Security ...

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NOLA: The blame game

The left-wing blogs and hurricane experts like Sidney Blumenthal in the Guardian are blaming George W. Bush and his administration for the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. I don't want to spend much time on this now, while the city is still underwater, but it's worth taking a look,

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Must reading

I don't normally look to Esquire for information about important changes in public policies and institutions. But the July Esquire has at least one such article, by Thomas P. M. Barnett (The Pentagon's New Map) on Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

Barnett is one of the most interesting strategic ...

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NOLA (continued)

Yesterday and today New Orleans seemed, to judge from newspaper and television accounts, to be outside the jurisdiction of the law. Looting appears to be extensive, gunshots at rescue helicopters and law enforcement officers have been reported, and Fox News reports there were three killings at the ...

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Blogburst day

Today is blogburst day, in which bloggers of all political stripes have urged readers to contribute to disaster relief for New Orleans and other areas hit by Hurricane Katrina.

Instapundit has many, many links: www.instapundit.com Please give.

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