FINALLY

The definitive job on the New York Review of Books. Fred Siegel in the New York Observer documents its long history of getting everything wrong, its loathing of capitalism, its solipsism and marginality, its pomposity and tedium, its condescension to the American public, its cliquish insularity … and more. Thanks to Mickey Kaus for pointing me toward it.

THANKS, WSJ: A stern editorial today from the Journal deploring some African countries’ recent turn toward scapegoating homosexuals in the AIDS epidemic. It’s encouraging in many ways, not least because it’s rare to hear the Journal, or indeed any other conservative outlet, defend homosexuals from the threat of violence or intimidation or discrimination. This is a shame. Even if some conservatives may disagree on marriage rights or military service, there really should be a consensus that no-one should be targeted for violence or hatred because their orientation. This needn’t mean hate crime laws (although it surely means that if you support hate crime laws for other groups, there is no rational reason to deny them to gays.) It simply means a public affirmation of homosexual dignity and humanity. Don’t you think that conservatives who want to deny civil rights to homosexuals would seem less mean-spirited if they occasionally took a moment to regret anti-gay violence or anti-gay bigotry? I guess I shouldn’t be handing out this p.r. advice to people I disagree with, but heck, take it. And good for the Journal for leading the way.

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THE LEFT VS. THE POOR

A truly gut-wrenching and important piece in Salon.com by Joan Walsh. It’s about the war against successful for-profit schools in the inner-cities. Many of these schools, funded by the Edison Project, have been making real progress in raising test scores, improving teaching and helping minority kids. You’d think public school boards would be ecstatic. Instead, one of the best Edison schools in San Francisco faces being shut down because it is not p.c. enough, even though it is doing great work with minority children. Similarly, New York City Schools Chancellor Harold Levy’s attempt to hand over a few schools in New York City to Edison looks doomed, because of visceral hostility to anything smacking of profit. It’s a classic case of leftist ideology prevailing over the interests of children. Ballsy of Salon to run with this. And timely too.

RICH’S CASH

So an emissary of Marc Rich is apprehended flying into London carrying close to $2 million in ready cash. Am I the only one wondering what that cash was for and for whom it was intended? Could Pardonscam get a second wind?

SAVE THE COWS

The case against Britain’s barbaric policy of killing the herds in order to save them from foot-and-mouth disease. Check out my new TRB, “The Killing Fields,” posted opposite.

KYOTO NO-NO

I’m a little perplexed by the hysterical reaction of the foreign, especially European, press to Bush’s decision to ignore the quixotic Kyoto agreement. No other industrialized country has yet ratified it. The Senate has already voted 95 – 0 not even to consider ratifying it. Bush’s statement is simply the recognition of the bleeding obvious. Of course, in diplomacy, you’re not supposed to tell the truth, at least not bluntly. But it’s refreshing when someone does. Bush’s first moves abroad – telling the North Koreans and Palestinians where to get off, insisting on missile defense, dropping Kyoto – all remind me of very early Thatcher. Her predecessors had all played the internationalist game, hob-nobbing at summits, talking grandly about the future of the planet, issuing communiquxe9s no-one intended to abide by, and so on. Thatcher walked into her first European summit, asked for a rebate for Britain from the E.U., demanding “our money back,” and wouldn’t budge till she got her way. Her international peers were appalled at her vulgarity. But Thatcher thought that foreign policy was about pursuing your national interest. So, it appears, does Bush. They’re both right – and deeply refreshing.

NOT A METAPHOR

The National Research Council, a branch of the National Academy of Sciences, has issued a report pointing out that we have almost no reliable statistics on whether the ‘war against drugs’ is actually working. The report also points out one extraordinary fact: the $30 billion spent in 1999 by federal, state and local governments in the drug war was twice the U.S. cost of the Gulf war of 1991. The number of people arrested in 1998 for drug offenses was triple the number in 1980 and the number of people in jail in 1998 for drug offences was a staggering 12 times greater than 1980. But at least we know we got Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait.

TONY EDWARDS

Had a minor epiphany watching the smooth young Southern forelocks of North Carolina trial lawyer Senator John Edwards on Hardball today. He looks uncannily like Tony Blair! He even has the concerned sincerity down right, as well as the moderate liberalism and awkward smile. Uh-oh.