A Note
August 06, 2007

Marty Peretz is on vacation without Internet access in Lucca, Italy. Posting will resume once he's back online.

The Mystery Of Bush's Unpopularity

The Washington Post's Peter Baker has an article today on President Bush's massive unpopularity. Oddly, Baker treats the phenomenon as both hard to explain and largely unrelated to anything Bush has done: Yet Bush's political troubles seem to go beyond particular policies.

Bourne Or Bond?

The third Jason Bourne movie may be getting good reviews, but this Matt Damon interview is pretty dumb: Matt Damon's amnesiac assassin Jason Bourne shares initials with another notorious screen operative. But other than that, Damon doesn't see any similarities between Bourne and James Bond.Bond is "an imperialist and he's a misogynist. He kills people and laughs and sips martinis and wisecracks about it," Damon, 36, told The Associated Press in an interview."Bourne is this paranoid guy. He's on the run. He's not the government. The government is after him.

No Pains For Labour

Two interesting developments in Britain: The first is that authorities have decided they do not have enough evidence to charge anyone in the Labour Party's "Cash For Honours" scandal. The second is that Gordon Brown "passed his first test," as Labour won two big by-elections last night. In both cases, David Cameron's conservatives trailed the Liberal Democrats and wound up in third place. As The Daily Telegraph reports, this makes it more likely that Brown and Labour will call early elections. You can read David Goodhart's assessment of Brown in this week's TNR here. --Isaac Chotiner

Constitutional Gridlock And Presidential Dictatorship
July 20, 2007

By Sanford Levinson I'm about to go off to New Zealand, one of the last countries in the world not to have a written constitution and to be firmly committed to parliamentary sovereignty (though some judges are reasonably forceful in enforcing the relatively new Bill of Rights (that, however, explicitly denies the power of what we call "judicial review," i.e., the ability of courts to invalidate legislation).

Yo Ho Ho
July 19, 2007

By David A. Bell Along with all the records to be set by the publication of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows on Saturday is one that the authors and publishers are not going to be happy about. Already, even before publication, it is certainly the most widely-pirated e-book of all time.

All The Rage
July 16, 2007

It is not a virus. It is a plague. A few days ago, I posted in this space a note about some political science professor at the University of Minnesota who was eager to talk about Cindy Sheehan challenging Nancy Pelosi for her House seat. The announcement of this hot news came from the university itself, and it is apparently part of a rage whereby institutions of higher learning seek to prove to the "public" that teaching employees do, well, "public service." This morning I received an e-mail from the State University of New York at Albany.

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"

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