June 24, 2002
White House Watch: Big Deal
A few hours before President Bush's big speech last Thursday announcing what is shaping up to be the most ambitious attempt to expand the federal government since Hillarycare, the White House quietly released an amendment to an obscure, Clinton-era executive order. The White House deleted from the original order a phrase defining America's air-traffic-control system as "an inherently governmental function." In other words, it was the first step toward privatizing the work of some 20,000 air-traffic controllers (the guys Ronald Reagan famously fired his first year in office).
THE FACE OF EVIL: There are two things about the Daniel Pearl video that are unforgettably shocking. The first, of course, is the sight of his murder.
June 03, 2002
Last week the United States learned that, more than one month before September 11, President George W. Bush received a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) memo mentioning a possible Al Qaeda hijacking. News of the memo took Washington by storm. It dominated newspaper headlines and TV talk shows. Democrats abandoned their long-standing caution regarding the war on terrorism and demanded to know what Bush knew and when he knew it. The White House counterattacked.But the "smoking gun" isn't all that smoking. The memo--prepared at presidential request--vaguely mentioned hijackings.
The furious volley of charges between Democrats and the White House over what President Bush knew about the terrorist threat before 9/11 seems to have produced some clear winners and losers. After a week of acid exchanges, the consensus in Washington is that Democrats are in retreat and Bush is jetting off to Europe victorious. The White House supposedly won the skirmish with a furious two-pronged, vice-presidential counterattack. First, Dick Cheney questioned the patriotism of Democrats who implied that Bush had actionable intelligence about September 11.
May 27, 2002
Hitler Is Dead
Leon Wieseltier on the Jewish question.
May 20, 2002
It's five miles from Northern Virginia, where the Pentagon sets military targets, and a mile and a half from Foggy Bottom, where the State Department cobbles together coalitions. To look at it, you'd never guess that the ten-story glass-and-steel building at the intersection of Connecticut Avenue and T Street, nestled amid the town houses and cafes of Dupont Circle, serves as one of the headquarters for the U.S. propaganda war against terrorism. If it doesn't look like a government office building, that's because it's not. Rather, it houses a public relations firm called The Rendon Group.
May 13, 2002
On a clear day, when the sun shines so brightly that the Kentucky bluegrass actually looks just a little bit blue, Arthur Hancock can stand atop one of Bourbon County's rolling hills and survey a good portion of the 2,000 acres he calls Stone Farm. He can see the low-slung barns; the tall ash and oak trees; the miles of wooden fence; and, most importantly, the horses. Stone Farm has more than 200 of them—mares looking after their foals, yearlings grazing together, stallions prancing in their private paddocks.
May 06, 2002
How the mighty have fallen. Four years ago the face of Ally McBeal graced the cover of Time magazine over the headline "Is Feminism Dead?" "[F]eminism," wrote reporter Ginia Bellafante, "has devolved into the silly" with "powerful support" from "a popular culture insistent on offering images of grown single women as frazzled, self-absorbed girls." And no one embodied that support more powerfully than Ally, "the most popular female character on television." But times change.
The fight over drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (anwr) may be over, but it revealed a curious truth: The most zealous proponents of dotting the Alaskan tundra with oil derricks are ... the Alaskans themselves. A poll last year showed that 75 percent of state residents support anwr drilling. The Anchorage Times and Anchorage Daily News both came out in favor of it. And the state's small but noisy congressional delegation--Senators Ted Stevens and Frank Murkowski and Representative Don Young--led the charge on Capitol Hill.
May 02, 2002
What's in a Name?
John Weaver hunches his angular frame over a Styrofoam cup of coffee in the basement cafeteria of the United States Senate and tries to explain what might seem--to an outsider--his peculiar political loyalties. Once a loyal Republican strategist who directed the presidential aspirations of uber-conservative Phil Gramm and helped plot John McCain's maverick primary run in 2000, he has since re-registered as a Democrat and severed consulting ties to all Republicans except McCain, for whom he still serves as chief strategist. "I only work for Democrats now," he tells me.