Politicizing Science
July 12, 2007

To be called "anti-intellectual" is for a certain genotype of Republican not especially insulting. After all, George Bush's father, Poppy, gave us J. Danforth Quayle as vice president, and he probably couldn't spell the word. Quayle's boss was no great brain either, and TNR once published a book of the aphorisms of malapropisms of George H.W. It was a scream and, sort of, a best-seller. The current president is not a heavy thinker. A lot of other presidents have also not been heavy thinkers. But they appreciated and listened to men and women who knew more than they did.

Dueling Civil Liberties
July 11, 2007

I read this article in the International Herald Tribune. By Eric Pfanner, it dealt with the press coverage of the principals in the London/Glasgow "Doctors' Plot." Did the newspaper and television outlets violate the law in displaying images of the suspects? The police said yes. But there are two civil liberties at stake here. The rights in British law of individuals under suspicion or indictment not to have their pictures or articles about them appear publicly. This meant to prevent prejudicial information from be seeing by potential jurors.

Life Imitates "the Thick Of It"
July 09, 2007

Back at his own blog our friend Alex Massie catches a gem from Alastair Campbell's newly-released diaries. Writes Campbell of one dreary meeting: War Cabinet. [Secretary of State for International Development] Clare Short rabbiting on more than ever. I slipped Tony a note about the time Saddam shot his health minister at a meeting because he was annoying him and did he want me to get a gun? 'Yes', he scribbled. --Michael Crowley

Sisterhood, Uninterrupted
July 09, 2007

by Linda Hirshman, Courtney Martin, and Deborah Siegel Linda Hirshman: Last week I went to the Twenty Sixth Annual Women's Studies Association Convention. It was my first such meeting since some law professor thing I attended in 1987, where the food was all vegetarian and there were no hangers in the dorm room closet. "Never again," I muttered, driving away in my (liberal) limousine. But here I am, with Get to Work out in paperback and dying to convince the women's studies teachers to teach its eponymous message to their young students. Before, as the new jacket copy says, it's too late.

More Libby
July 07, 2007

At least two friends have criticized me for defending Scooter Libby against the ravages of political justice. One being Jonathan Chait whotakes me on for saying that I know that Libby has not profited--i.e., retained cash--from the Libby Defense Fund. He complains that I recite no facts. Well, I get my facts from the Libby Defense Fund on whose board I sit. His grievance is really against Chris Orr who first made the charge on this web-site and who I wrote hadn't the slightest idea of the finances of the Libby case and still accused Libby of making financial gains from his troubles.

Jogging Imperialism:
July 05, 2007

Meanwhile, the French are focusing on an issue of great importance: is it acceptable for Nicolas Sarkozy to a) be so keen on jogging and b) flaunt that enthusiasm so publicly?

Gordon Brown's Burden?
July 04, 2007

One of the consequences of the unfortunate developments in Iraq is that intervention anywhere else anytime in the future is going to be a tougher thing to sell. Many will welcome this of course. Still, there is one small country where at least some people would welcome the arrival of the Royal Marines: "ZIMBABWE'S leading cleric has called on Britain to invade the country and topple President Robert Mugabe.

Reagan And The 4th
July 04, 2007

Since all the conservative websites are posting their favorite Reagan speeches about freedom in honor of July 4th, some of us at The Plank thought we should post a few of our favorite words from the former president: Question: Are we going to put any kind of pressure on the Turkish government about giving a just solution to the Cyprus problem?President Reagan: To the which problem?Q: To the Cyprus problem.Reagan: Oh. I wish the Secretary of State were here. We're aware of that but I don't know that we have involved ourselves directly and deeply in that.

Glasgow's Jack Bauer
July 03, 2007

In the aftermath of the thwarted attack on Glasgow airport, one man has emerged as the hero of the hour. Step forward baggage handler John Smeaton who, while enjoying a sly cigarete break, witnessed the attack and rallied to help the police take down the terrorists. You may well have seen him on CNN or Fox. A tribute become a phenomenon, attracting more than 500,000 page views. More than 1,000 people have each pledged money to buy a pint for Mr. Smeaton at the Glasgow Airport Holiday Inn.

Growth Spurt
July 02, 2007

Gaborone, the capital of Botswana, doesn't come up in the news very often. And why would it? There's no war or ethnic strife. The city is poor, but not outlandishly so--in fact, thanks to a stable government and a lucrative mining industry, Botswana is one of Africa's rare economic success stories.