A Big Mess To Fix

The New York Times Magazine had a fascinating piece yesterday written by an Iraqi "fixer." As anyone who has ever worked with a fixer (savvy locals who translate, drive, arrange interviews and generally keep their clients--reporters--from getting killed) can relate, these people are the unsung heroes of international journalism. The former Times fixer who wrote the piece, Ayub Nuri, is now studying at Columbia University. Despite his stellar credentials, it wasn't easy for him to get there.


A Time For Healing

Mike Nifong, the former district attorney of Durham County, North Carolina, tried to shove three young Duke men into jail on trumped up charges of rape. The charges, made first by a young bimbo striptease dancer, were taken up by Nifong despite that fact there was absolutely no evidence of their guilt and despite the other fact that the just-barely-past-teenage mother who accused them changed her allegations from day to day. Of course, there was a racial undertone to all of this.


Having never seen "24," I'll defer to Chris's judgment that "the show is beyond politics altogether--or, perhaps more accurately, beneath them." But that hasn't stopped numerous conservative commentators (not to mention the odd Supreme Court Justice) from trying to make political hay out of the show. So, given the current Democratic frontrunner in the '08 presidential race, it's probably worth noting that for the show's seventh and upcoming season, the president on "24" will be a woman.


The top award for the YouTube debate thus far goes to Reverend Reggie, a black pastor from North Carolina. The question, for John Edwards: In the American past, religious justifications -- something prohibited by the Constitution, at least under most interpretations -- were used to prolong injustices like slavery, Jim Crow, not allowing women to vote. How can you use your Southern Baptist faith to explain your opposition to gay marriage? There just wasn't a good way to answer that. P.S.: His video -- featuring a song from "Hair" -- was pretty cheeky, though. --Eve Fairbanks

Bill Richardson had the only really specific response to the youth-group-icebreaker question to identify something you like or don't like about the candidate to your left: He lauded Biden's service on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, civil rights, Supreme Court nominees. Impressive, insofar as any response could be. Joe Biden likes Dennis Kucinich's wife -- yikes. --Eve Fairbanks

By Sanford Levinson I'm about to go off to New Zealand, one of the last countries in the world not to have a written constitution and to be firmly committed to parliamentary sovereignty (though some judges are reasonably forceful in enforcing the relatively new Bill of Rights (that, however, explicitly denies the power of what we call "judicial review," i.e., the ability of courts to invalidate legislation).


Why So Secretive?

The Washington Post finally manages to figure out who met with Cheney's secret energy task force in 2001: One of the first visitors, on Feb. 14, was James J. Rouse, then vice president of Exxon Mobil and a major donor to the Bush inauguration; a week later, longtime Bush supporter Kenneth L. Lay, then head of Enron Corp., came by for the first of two meetings.


The AP has an interesting breakdown of which employers gave the most money to the presidential candidates. In most instances the big bucks come from investment banks or large corporations. Cablevision employees donated $93,675 to Hillary, for instance; Ernst & Young workers gave Giuliani $143,000; Obama hauled in $160,000 from Lehman Brothers. But check out the nefarious forces supporting conservative Republican Sam Brownback. The Kansas senator's top source of donations turns out to be Martin's Famous Pastry Shoppe in Chambersburg, PA.


The Great Impeachment

By Robert Brustein The period of The Great Impeachment has been followed by a period of intense retrospection. This is the process that has occupied Congress during most of October 2007, when for the first time in American history an entire Administration was unceremoniously dumped from office.


All The Rage

It is not a virus. It is a plague. A few days ago, I posted in this space a note about some political science professor at the University of Minnesota who was eager to talk about Cindy Sheehan challenging Nancy Pelosi for her House seat. The announcement of this hot news came from the university itself, and it is apparently part of a rage whereby institutions of higher learning seek to prove to the "public" that teaching employees do, well, "public service." This morning I received an e-mail from the State University of New York at Albany.