Villaraigosa's Bold Plan To Save Water
December 10, 2007

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is usually considered (with good reason) to be a rising star in the Democratic Party. But today the Los Angeles Times reports that his solution to the city's chronic water shortages isn't working too well. Villaraigosa's clever scheme was to ask people really nicely to use less water. This doesn't seem to have worked--water use in the city hasn't budged since Villaraigosa issued his plea in June.

How Is Obama Like Dick Cheney And Fred Thompson?
December 10, 2007

He's got Stephen Hayes's love. I think Hayes's cover story on Obama in the new Weekly Standard is a pretty fascinating document--mainly because it's such a puff job. Indeed, from the gushing (and by now familiar) recitation of Obama's life story to the laudatory quotes from Obama supporters, Hayes--aka Dick Cheney's biographer and Fred Thompson's cheerleader--has nary a negative word to write about the Illinois Senator. Maybe Hayes just has a soft spot for Obama because he's related to Cheney, but I think his fondness for Obama is better explained by this passage from his piece.

Maybe The Worst Part Of Romney's Illegal Alien Problems
December 05, 2007

Just asking: Is there a way in which the Mormon story and the immigration story intersect for Romney in really bad ways? From the full version of the Globe's latest Romney illegal-alien bust: Asked to show the papers to reporters to prove the workers are here legally, Saenz [the owner of the landscaping service] declined, adding that he was not obligated to verify the employees' documents with the government. "It's not my responsibility," said Saenz, who has said he met Romney through the Mormon church. "I ask them to show me papers. And if they show me papers, what can I do?

The Second Amendment Revolution
December 05, 2007

Here is a remarkable development. Just twenty-five years ago, there was a strong consensus, among judges and academics, that the Second Amendment did not create an individual right. No federal court had invalidated a restriction on guns on Second Amendment grounds (ever). As recently as 1992, Chief Justice Warren Burger, a conservative Republican appointee, rejected the individual rights view in public. (For some details, see my TNR piece, "The Most Mysterious Right.") In a short period, the consensus has shattered.

The Last Believer?
November 29, 2007

Bill Kristol publishes an email from a friend: Read Fred's op-ed in today's Des Moines Register, 'Reclaim greatness: Lower taxes. Enforce laws.' It's excellent. Watch the Thompson campaign's new 2-minute web video, 'Revolution,' at It's terrific. Think about the alternatives to Fred. Really ...

Somebody Get This Boy Some Ritalin
November 29, 2007

There's a piece in today's NYT "Styles" section about a 25-year-old guy named Sean Aiken who has committed to spending an entire year searching for his life's calling by hopping from one job to another every week--everything from climbing instructor to extreminator to tatoo artist--and, of course, chronicling the whole soul-expanding journey on his web site, As the site's subhed explains young Sean's odyssey, he is "searching a passion, not just a job." Not to be a grump, but this project strikes me as both absurd and unbearably self-indulgent.

A Border Story
November 29, 2007

By Thanksgiving, Manuel Jesus Cordova Soberanes had been walking for two days pretty much straight. He had already illegally crossed the U.S.-Mexico border--"I have two families, many mouths to feed," he told the AP yesterday--when about 50 miles outside of Tucson, in the empty desert, he saw a nine-year old boy accompanied only by his dog and holding the side mirror of a van. Turns out, the boy, Christopher Buztheitner, had just survived a terrible crash: His mom had lost control of her van and plummeted nearly 300 feet to her death.

Gop Debates; Dems Won't
November 29, 2007

Debate Wrap [Michael Cooper and Marc Santora, The New York Times]: "The Republican presidential candidates engaged in a slashing debate last night over immigration and other issues, confronting one another in testy exchanges that reflected the wide-open nature of the race in the final sprint toward the Iowa caucuses." The Denial [Liz Sidoti, Associated Press]: "Rudy Giuliani dismissed a report Wednesday that he expensed the cost of his security detail to obscure city offices for trips to a Long Island resort as the then-mayor began an extramarital affair with current wife Judith Nathan." New

Spare The Rod...or Go To Jail
November 28, 2007

On Wednesday, Massachusetts lawmakers are scheduled to take up a bill barring parents from spanking children. This isn't the first time a state has tried this kind of meddling, though all efforts thus far have failed. I'm rooting for this one to as well. I understand the urge to prevent child abuse, but this smacks of government overreach--and it's precisely the sort of well-intentioned intrusion that revs up the right-wing crazies.  For the record, I don't spank my kids.

Roger Cohen Vs. Bernard Lewis
November 26, 2007

There was an inadvertent debate this morning between two op-ed pieces: one in the New York Times by Roger Cohen (he, of the priestly caste among the Jews); the other in the Wall Street Journal by Bernard Lewis (a scholar of titanic stature but a Jew as ordinary as the rest of us Israelites).  The two essays of roughly a thousand words each appear to be addressed to the outcome of tomorrow's conference at Annapolis.  They are not.  They are different ways of reading history...or, of one of them, not reading history at all.