October 18, 2007
You probably haven't heard of Yang Chunlin, and, until recently, neither had we. Yang is a 52-year-old Chinese land-rights activist who put together a petition questioning his country's decision to host the Olympics next year. In the United States--as in Italy, Greece, or any of the other countries that have recently hosted the Olympics--if you circulate a petition criticizing the government, any number of things can happen. In the worst-case scenario, you get ignored. In the best-case scenario, you get attention and, eventually, your way.
Jones begins with the Constitution's framers, who developed a doctrine of "separationism" as they defined the presidency. Frustrated by the essentially executive-free Articles of Confederation, the framers knew they would write a stronger executive branch into the new government. But they retained the suspicion of centralized power that had spurred them to make a revolution in the first place.
The voice of the civics teacher is cheerful and patient. Unlike an ordinary citizen, he takes real joy in the arcane rules by which we govern ourselves, and he tries to use his enthusiasm to get his fellow Americans to pay attention, for democracy depends on their informed participation. Unlike a historian, he thinks this complex system has a life of its own, stretching backward and forward, independent of its operators. In a period when cheer and patience are notably absent from political discourse, Charles O.
October 17, 2007
The Morning News
Stealing First [Thomas Beaumont, Des Moines Register]: "Iowa Republicans have scheduled the party's presidential caucuses for Jan. 3, arguing the date would preserve the state's coveted leadoff status but avoid starting the nominating process in 2007." Holy Roller [John McCormick, Chicago Tribune]: "In what is perhaps the most obvious effort yet by Sen.
Don't Sleep On Huck
The Rasmussen poll out today has Romney leading Iowa at 25 percent, followed pretty closely by Thompson and Huckabee at 19 and 18, respectively. Giuliani is fourth at 13. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Mike Huckabee could easily take second place in the caucuses. That's my prediction in any case. P.S. The reason I'm so confident is organization: The Thompson campaign doesn't seem especially concerned about it, and they got off to a pretty late start to boot. Huckabee is all about grassroots organization, which he more or less has to be given how little money he's raised.
The One Reality In Annapolis
When Mme. Albright became desperate she clutched onto the Israelis and squeezed them to rescue the Clinton administration from its embarrassments. All you have to do is read the 9/11 report to see the extent of despair and the blighted hopes that put Ehud Barak in captivity. Now, the Bushies are looking down the last corridor of their disastrous tenure in the White House. And, instead of Madeleine, Condi Rice is performing the emergency room ablutions, this time also on the peace process that somehow, like in Clinton's time from Oslo to Camp David, seems never to proceed.
Libya's Starring Role
Designated by the cohort of African states in the United Nations, Burkina Faso and Libya have been elected for two-year terms to the Security Council. Burkina Faso is a run-of-the-mill dictatorship, almost incomprehensibly poor, illiterate. Nothing special in this designation, But Libya is, well, Libya. Run as an unembarrassed tyranny by Col. Qaddafi, with a history of deftly directed terrorism, and paid for by an oil economy that was once lucrative and now has to have the lush resource refined outside the country, Libya has served as chair of the U.N.
The decision by Evo Morales to bar the American ambassador in La Paz from entering the presidential palace because of comments he recently made has brought the Bolivian president some renewed international attention. However, the relationship between the United States and Bolivia is not the issue that most Bolivians are focused on. Despite the efforts of Morales, an ally of Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez, to repeatedly spar with Washington, the U.S. is ignoring him.
Massie on the Yankees
It's déjà vu all over again. For the seventh successive year the New York Yankees have failed to win the World Series. No wonder it's open season in New York. Repeated failure demands a sacrificial scapegoat. George Steinbrenner may have decided that Joe Torre's head must go, while the media--perplexingly--argues that it's all Alex Rodriguez's fault. These are targets that are obvious and tempting but, nonetheless, inadequate. Yankee fans should aim higher. Can it really be a coincidence that the most-storied and successful team in American sports has failed to win while George W.
October 16, 2007
The Orthodox Campaign
One of the few things the Republican and Democratic presidential contests have in common is the relentlessness with which candidates on both sides are wrapping themselves in orthodoxy. Heretics need not apply. It's true that primary contests are largely decided by the party faithful. And I'll concede that orthodoxy may be underrated since we tend to trust people whose views are grounded in a set of principles."I did try to found a heresy of my own," said G.K.