September 09, 2002
The United States added a critical ounce of prevention to its war on terrorism last week. One hundred pounds of prevention, actually, in the form of bomb-grade, highly enriched uranium airlifted from Serbia to Russia for safekeeping. The nuclear material had been sitting around for more than a decade at Belgrade's Vinca Institute of Nuclear Sciences—a decrepit civilian nuclear reactor—in small, low-radiation canisters that would have been easy to carry off without special equipment. The site was protected by little more than a barbed-wire fence and a few lightly armed guards.
Downtown Washington, D.C. For the past couple of years the nine a.m. Sung Eucharist has been the most popular of the three Sunday Masses at St. Paul's Episcopal on K Street, with around 130 of the church's 675 members in attendance on your average Sunday. The service has more candles, music, and ceremonial pomp--"smells and bells," as the Reverend Edwin Barnett calls it--than the 7:45 a.m. Low Mass. And for the many families with children, it is more convenient than the midday Mass.
Remember in the winter of 2001, just after George W. Bush took office, when the United States was said to face an energy crisis? Remember the immediate aftermath of the September 11 attacks, when it dawned on us that Osama bin Laden is a Saudi and that most of the hijackers were Saudis, and yet the United States buys nearly one-quarter of its imported petroleum from the Persian Gulf--transferring at least $20 billion annually to the Saudi princes who encourage Islamic fanaticism?
August 19, 2002
Until one day several years ago, I, like most people, harbored no ill feelings toward the state of Delaware. I suppose in some vague sense I thought of it as harmless and even endearing, the way you tend to regard other small things, such as Girl Scouts or squirrels. But all that changed the summer day I moved to Washington, when, making my way down I-95 in a rental truck with all of my worldly belongings, I screeched to a halt in front of what turned out to be a two-hour backup in Delaware.
August 05, 2002
Long before George W. Bush won the 2000 presidential election, his chief political adviser, Karl Rove, was predicting to reporters that a Bush victory would produce a historic political realignment. This new Republican majority would resemble the one William McKinley built roughly one century ago. "I look at this time as 1896, the time where we saw the rise of William McKinley and his vice president, Teddy Roosevelt," Rove declared.
July 22, 2002
No Pain, No Gain
Last fall, Williams Communications Group (WCG) looked like as good a bankruptcy candidate as any. The firm was supposed to make money by selling access to its 33,000-mile fiber-optic network to phone companies and Internet service providers. But a glut of fiber-optic cable had driven prices for that service down dramatically, while communications traffic was barely increasing. That left WCG's revenues at only a fraction of what had been expected when all its cable had been laid.
Notebook Entry from 2002
FIRST TIME FARCE: When Al Sharpton took to the streets of Manhattan this past weekend to protest the recording industry's exploitation of black musicians, it surprised no one. After all, Sharpton has by now conclusively established himself as America's foremost champion of the invented racial grievance. But Sharpton's partner in protest was a bit surprising: Michael Jackson, who, in a remarkable rebranding effort, now apparently wants to be known as a race man. Even more surprising, the Gloved One actually put the Rotund One to shame in the demagoguery department.
June 24, 2002
Washington Diarist: Homeland
FOR A YEAR AND A HALF now, my husband and I have lived in a tall, tomato-red house near the southern end of Washington's Embassy Row. Built in 1898, the house had the exact combination of personality and sturdiness we had been looking for. Just as important, it came with an array of age-related quirks that scared away all other potential buyers. This allowed us to avoid the bloody bidding wars so common in D.C.
On its face, Attorney General John Ashcroft's plan, announced last week, to fingerprint about 100,000 foreigners visiting the United States each year sounds prudent. Since "fingerprints don't lie," as Ashcroft recently put it, fingerprinting visitors from Arab and Muslim nations should be a reliable way of identifying terrorists who would otherwise quickly disappear inside the country. In fact, until recently even liberals endorsed this logic.
On the Hill: Plan B
At an early June meeting of Republican activists in California, White House political director Ken Mehlman set the stage for the November congressional elections. Delivering a slick PowerPoint presentation with 27 slides bearing short, declarative sentences and nifty national maps, Mehlman summarized the parties' competing approaches with boardroom efficiency. First he explained the by-now-familiar Democratic strategy: Support George W.