Robert Welch Lives
October 07, 2006

by Sanford Levinson Needless to say, I have been interested in the vigorous response provoked by my article in last week's TNR attacking the presidential veto as anti-democratic.

Iran's Power Struggle
October 05, 2006

This morning's New York Post carries an important story that was written by Amir Taheri, a columnist from whom I have learned a good deal over the years. The article is about a struggle in Iran between Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the current president, and Ali-Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a previous president and the funny little man's defeated opponent for the post last year. The story is about a smoking gun, two smoking guns, in fact, and it goes back to the time when Iran was losing a desperate war to Iraq. That is, there are two letters: one is from Brig. Gen.

Perhaps The Most Important Development In American Politics On October 2
October 04, 2006

by Sanford Levinson On October 2, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed a bill that would, as described in the extraordinarly brief story published in the October 3 Times on the veto, "that would have automatically allocated all the state's 55 electoral votes to whichever presidential candidate received the national popular vote." An earlier, and extensive, story in the Times accurately noted that the bill, devised by a computer scientist, John r.

I.f. Stone's Radical Journalism
October 04, 2006

I wrote a few days ago about I.F. Stone and a review of two books (one a biography and the other yet another--there are now seven--collection of his writings) by Paul Berman in the Sunday New York Times Book Review. I've now read the books. They are dreadful: The first for not really grasping the ideological maelstrom in which Stone immured himself; the second, well Stone only told the truth--and a very partial truth, at that--one way. He could give it to the United States. But he was a patsy for its enemies.

Total Failure In Lebanon
October 04, 2006

The United Nations never fails to fail. The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) has failed for decades. (And what do they mean by "interim"? Interim between when and when?) I knew (yes, knew; not suspected; not thought) that Security Council Resolution 1701 would go the way of its predecessor, Security Council Resolution 1559. It's not because I'm a seer. It's because the United Nations is the United Nations, and fights over language are what it does best. But the language is not what failed this time. It was the intentions of the parties.

Nuclear Ambitions Wanted
September 29, 2006

Al Qaeda in Iraq has put out an audio wanted ad on a popular website, which, as an article by David Rising in today's Boston Globe puts it, "beckons nuclear scientists." Datelined Baghdad, the piece details the call for experts in "chemistry, physics, electronics ... especially nuclear scientists and explosives experts" to join the group's holy war against the West.

Who Needs Recognition?
September 29, 2006

According to a Reuters dispatch in Haaretz online today, Hamas massed a huge rally in Gaza earlier today to "denounce the state of Israel and declare that they would never recognise its right to exist." So what else is new? "We ask God to punish the so-called Israel and the allies of Israel ... We vow to God that we will never recognize Israel even if we would be all killed." In the case of the last contingency, of course, no one would care. This is the rhetoric of nutcases, although I know that since their passions emerge from Muslim religious belief I should treat them with respect.

Rat Race
September 28, 2006

Kofi Annan is leaving. Yippee. It's not that he's leaving on his own. His (second) term is up and no one really wants him to stay, except maybe the Arabs, for whom he has done relentless service. In any case, there are seven candidates to succeed him. One of them, Vaira Vike-Freiberga, the president of Latvia who lived for half a century in Canada, has not a chance. One reason is that she's not Asian and, according to the rules by which the United Nations plays, this is Asia's turn. Sorry.

Can The Internet Cure What Ails Peer Review?
September 27, 2006

by Eric RauchwayGlitches in the peer review process sprout like dandelions in the groves of academe, and now some scholars appear to believe technology will prevent their seasonal recurrence. But it's hard for me to believe that, of all institutions, the blogosphere is the one to solve the problems of peer review. (Thanks to Metafilter for the pointer.) Peer review, or refereeing, is the mechanism churning away behind every scholarly journal or university press--editors take article or book manuscripts submitted for publication and send them out to experts in the field for evaluation.

Is Islam More Prone To Murder?
September 27, 2006

OK, I am obsessed by the Muslim avalanche against Pope Benedict ... and against what he said. There will now be many scholarly battles about the aptness of the pontiff's citation of a conversation between a late Christian Byzantine emperor and an erudite Muslim, a medieval affair. They will surely seem to some of us more than a bit nit-picky. I have linked to some pretty nit-picky writings myself.