The best parts of the early rounds of the NCAA men's college basketball tournament, which begins today, are the upsets, as a few low-seeded teams inevitably knock off some high-seeded ones. Like most college basketball fans, I usually choose as my favorite underdog a scrappy directional school (like fifteenth seed Eastern Kentucky) or an overachieving Ivy (such as thirteenth seed Penn). But this year the underdog I'm most rooting for is a team that, while carrying a ten seed, is a former national champion and typically a national power.
Christmas came early and often last year for Nancy Grace. In mid-November, a jury in Redwood City, California, found Scott Peterson guilty of the murder of his wife, Laci, and their unborn son, Conner; then, on December 13, that same jury recommended that Peterson be sentenced to death. Grace, the feisty blonde Court TV anchor who had been covering the Peterson case from virtually the moment Laci Peterson was reported missing nearly two years earlier, could hardly hide her satisfaction with the decisions.
Major General Elazar Stern paces before several hundred cadets at the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) combat officers' training school and strokes his knitted skullcap. Stern, commander of the IDF's personnel branch, is one of the army's highest-ranking officers. And yet his demeanor and appearance are casual. He avoids the microphone at the podium on stage and instead stands at ground level facing the cadets, whose various colored berets identify them as paratroopers, artillerymen, and combat engineers.
Imagine that God were to appear on Earth for the unlikely purpose of settling, once and for all, our disputes over economic policy. And suppose that, to my enormous surprise, he announced that every empirical claim advanced by conservatives was correct. Cutting taxes produces such great economic growth that even the poor benefit. Privatizing or eliminating social programs like Medicare and Social Security will cause the elderly to save more money and enjoy higher living standards.
Imagine the likelihood of thousands of American students, intellectuals, and Hollywood celebrities marching in support of George W. Bush, and you will begin to appreciate the marvel of the Israeli leftists now rallying around Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Reviled for engineering the Lebanon war, for masterminding the settlement movement, for opposing every attempt at reconciliation with the Palestinians, and as the personification of Israeli militarism and anti-Arab racism, Sharon today is viewed by many leftists as the settlers' bete noire and Israel's foremost champion of peace.
If you've bothered to pay any attention to the low-wattage drama of the race for chairman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), you probably know that Howard Dean is on the verge of winning it. But, during a three-month process in which many candidates and would-be candidates have stumbled briefly into the fray, nothing is more illustrative of how Democratic politics have changed than the fate of Leo Hindery. You've probably never heard of Hindery, but he is one of the party establishment's longtime moneymen.
The moment one lands at Baghdad Airport, all the political arguments, all the philosophical certainties, all the things that Iraq has come to represent in the American imagination simply melt away. What's left is a place--a not very nice place. From the backseat of a beat-up sedan steered by a gun-toting Iraqi driver, the streets of Baghdad look no different than they did during my last trip here six months ago—except for the large number of Iraqi police, who seem to be everywhere. The smell of burning trash is ubiquitous, as is the sound of gunfire.
Last week, after 2.8 million votes, three recounts, four lawsuits, and innumerable accusations of fraud and corruption, Christine Gregoire was sworn in as governor of Washington State. The inauguration in Olympia, the state's mythically named capital, took place on the kind of sodden, blustery day that passes for winter in the Pacific Northwest. It wasn't so different, in fact, from the day before the ceremony, when protesters filled the narrow road leading to the Capitol and shouts of "Revote!" swelled through the old logging and fishing enclave.
Early last year, a Democratic representative named Chris Bell decided it was time someone really went after Tom DeLay. Like many of his Democratic colleagues, Bell had come to believe that DeLay, a fellow Texan, was not just a tyrannical House majority leader, but that his pursuit of power had led him to trample House ethics rules.