TAPPED AGAIN

Here’s what The American Prospect is trying to tell us about their traffic in yet another snide post. In the last month, the online magazine had 450,000 unique visitors. In the same period, the most popular part of that site, TAPPED, the blog, got 70,000 hits. “Hits” are not the same as visitors (you could have twenty little gidgets on one page and one visit would give you 20 hits) and a good rule of thumb is to divide the number of hits by 10 to get the visitors. So let’s say TAPPED got 7,000 unique visitors in May. Does it make sense to you that the rest of the site would get 64 times as much traffic as the blog? I’m just confused, guys. So is Jonah. Maybe one of the numbers is right and the other isn’t. But both numbers together make no sense, if you believe, as I do, that TAPPED is obviously more interesting than the rest of the unreadable magazine. Hey, guys, that’s a compliment! Why get all snarky instead of running a simple correction or explain the weird discrepancy? This is the web, guys. No-one will get upset if you made an honest and easy mistake.

VOICE OF THE FAITHFUL

Energizing piece in the New York Times today about a new lay Catholic group called Voice of the Faithful. It’s an attempt by faithful Catholics to channel their frustration at a hierarchy seemingly immune to reform or responsibility. If it leads to more lay control of the Church, more lay oversight of administrative and financial matters, all to the good. But what it must do is persuade the hierarchy to open a real debate – not a phony one – about whether the decline of the Church in the last thirty years is in part a function of the current doctrines on priestly celibacy and sexual morality. I profoundly believe that this sex abuse scandal is not the real crisis. It’s a symptom of the deeper one of a Church without leadership in America, without confidence in its own doctrines, and credibility among its own people. Until that changes, nothing will stop the slide. But this is a sign that this time, we, the people of God, the real living, breathing Church, will demand that change occurs. If Erasmus is not listened to, Luther may be around the corner. For more information, check out the website, www.voiceofthefaithful.org

A BOWDLERIZED JIHAD: The Harvard senior whose class day address was entitled “American Jihad,” has finally decided to remove the word “Jihad” from the title of his talk. The text will remain unchanged. How depressing. If that is the right summary of his talk, why shouldn’t he have the cojones to use the word in the title? I wasn’t sympathetic to those wanting to silence this young man, let alone to those thugs who threatened his life. And not knowing the text, it was impossible to make a judgment about the talk. It’s probably multi-cultural uplift of the sort that now passes for wisdom at universities. (Hey, but at least he’s not Tony Kushner.) But if he’s going to talk, let him talk boldly, in the language he wants, to make the statement he desires. This urge for sensitivity – at the expense of bruising and difficult dialogue – is a sickly sign of our times. No surprise harvard has catered to it again. But sad nonetheless.

SEXUAL ABUSE AND SPORTS: A harrowing story from ESPN magazine about an isolated 15 year old child prodigy being sexually used by a college football team while police and college administrators looked the other way. It’s not just priests.

TAP DANCING: The partisan Democratic site, TAPPED, puts out some good, if to my mind shrill, stuff. But they have had an odd response to inquiries about their web stats. The Columbia Journalism Review numbers – touted by Alterman – show the American Prospect Online to have a staggering 450,000 unique visitors in May. When pressed to substantiate that, TAPPED says its own site – the only part of the American Prospect anyone seems to read – has gotten 70,000 “hits” so far this month. What do they mean by “hits”? No one really uses that terminology any more. If that means 70,000 unique visitors, it follows that the main snooze-fest TAP website gets three times as many visitors as the hot blog attached and twice as much as web-king, Instapundit (and please don’t start calling me the web-queen. I’ll cry). I guess I find that somewhat unlikely. If by hits, they mean 70,000 unique visits, then the discrepancy is even larger and weirder. I’m not saying they’re fibbing. They may be flubbing. But I don’t believe it. My burly beer-buddy Jonah has some suspicions about Slate’s endowment as well.

THE BBC’S ISRAEL PROBLEM: You have to go to Britain to really appreciate it. But the sheer viciousness and slant of the BBC’s coverage of the Israel-Palestinian dispute permeate every item of news. The London editor of the Jerusalem Post finally decided to stop being interviewed by the BBC. He’s a journalist; he’s not uncritical of many Israeli policies and actions. But he knows anti-Semitism when he sees it:

Since September 11, I have refused all invitations to appear on BBC radio or television. The reason is not that I wish to avoid a debate, but rather that I believe that the BBC has crossed a dangerous threshold. In my judgement, the volume and intensity of this unchallenged diatribe has now transcended mere criticism of Israel. Hatred is in the air. Wittingly or not, I am convinced that the BBC has become the principal agent for reinfecting British society with the virus of anti-Semitism. And that is a game I am not willing to play.

Good for him. What he fails to understand is that the BBC, from its very inception, has never been about open journalistic inquiry. It began as a smothering, paternalistic effort to uphold social morals, to inculcate the right national spirit, to protect the establishment of its day. That’s still its mission. Except the current establishment is no longer the fusty, puritan condescension of Lord Reith, but the fusty, trendy condescension of the Blair generation, the former student radicals whose anti-Americanism is as ingrained as their addiction to pop-cultural ephemera. I’ve long believed that the media in Britain will only regain real vibrancy once the BBC is abolished. Like the National Health Service, it is an idea whose time is past.

ARE THE POLES MELTING? Not according to this interesting anlaysis. Climate change is definitely occurring – but much of it for the colder; and some melting ice-flows might have nothing to do with global warming. I’m no expert on this but having read Bjorn Lomborg, this stuff seems reasonable to me.

HITCH IN OVER-DRIVE

Another fantastic column from Hitchens. Is there a consensus building that we cannot win the war on terror until we have secured regime change in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan? Not before Iraq, but surely after.

BLOGGER-TIME: I’m sorry about the screwy dates on my posts. It’s a Blogger problem. No clue when it’ll get fixed.

FEELING CALMER NOW

Will Saletan tries to argue that Bush’s tacking on Iraq is actually a brilliant strategy to get what he wants: a real war. Man, I hope Will is right (and he often is). Then again Will declared in the last election campaign that Bush was toast. What’s interesting to me is that this liberal mag, edited by my friend, Jake Weisberg, who also published “Bushisms”, is publishing pieces that make Bush seem like a master chess player. I have a feeling that the truth is somewhere in between.

PRIVACY CONTINUED: Eugene Volokh has an excellent legal follow-up to the story of pro-life activists taking photos of women seeking abortions. It looks like it’s constitutional – as most invasions of privacy already are.

THE NEW AFGHANISTAN?: Islamo-fascist strikes against soft Western targets; a safe harbor for al Qaeda refugees; nuclear brinksmanship with India. It seems to me Pakistan is slowly moving toward the axis of evil. And we’re neutral between them and the Indians? Safire usefully helps you figure it all out today. I think he’s too soft on Musharraf.

THAT BRITISH GIFT: Great dinner tonight with old Oxford pals – now all Economist machers. But the highlight was a classic understatement from a fellow Brit diner. “What I want to know,” she asked, “is whether anyone had ever heard or written about Pim Fortuyn before his recent difficulties.” Ah yes. Getting shot in the head can be frightfully awkward at times.

DANCING QUEEN: Okay, so I couldn’t resist. I won’t say who forwarded this to me. But you’d be surprised.

POSEUR ALERT: “And anyway I am a very old-fashioned kind of homosexual, or rather sexual minoritarian, I am the kind of homosexual sexual minoritarian who believes that sexual minoritarian liberation is inextricable from the grand project of advancing Federally protected civil rights, and cannot be separated from the liberation struggles of other oppressed populations, cannot be achieved isolated from the global struggle for the abolition of the legacy of colonialism, cannot be achieved isolated from the global resistance movement against militarism and imperialism and racism and fundamentalisms of all sorts, the global movement for the furtherance of social and economic justice, the global multiculturalist, anti-tribalist identity-based movement for pluralist democracy, I am the kind of homosexual who believes that all liberation has an inexpungeable aspect that is collective, communitarian, and also millenarian, utopian, which is to say rooted in principle, theory, dream, imagination, in the absolute non-existence of the Absolute and in the eternal existence of the Alternative, of the Other, in the insistently unceasingly mutable character of our character, I am an old-fashioned sort of homosexual/sexual minoritarian and I think if you wanted a gay commencement speaker in this dark day and age you might have chosen one of those newfangled neo-con gay people with their own website and no day job.” – socialist playwright Tony Kushner, Vassar Commencement address. Ouch.

AFTER IRAQ, THE SAUDIS? Wonderfully <a href = http

//www.usnews.com/usnews/issue/020603/opinion/3pol.htm target = _blank>clarifying piece by Michael Barone.

LORDY LORDY: The Brits can still churn out whack-job peers. Here’s a priceless obit from the Telegraph of an English lord who just couldn’t stop drinking and fornicating. (Thanks to Andrew Stuttaford for noticing it). Five wives, and hundreds of lovers, and yet he couldn’t help but remark that “Queers have been the downfall of all the great empires.” Stanley Kurtz, eat your heart out.

FIXED! The permalinks are working again. I’m sorry they were screwed up. My thanks to Eric Olsen et al for alerting me.

THAT BARAK QUOTE

It comes from the New York Review of Books interview I linked to yesterday. It resonated with several readers and is still resonating with me. It’s about negotiating with the Palestinian leadership:

They are products of a culture in which to tell a lie…creates no dissonance. They don’t suffer from the problem of telling lies that exists in Judeo-Christian culture. Truth is seen as an irrelevant category. There is only that which serves your purpose and that which doesn’t. They see themselves as emissaries of a national movement for whom everything is permissible. There is no such thing as ‘the truth’.

The tantalizing question is whether he’s referring to the PLO or the literature departments of most Ivy League colleges.

WHEN WILL I DISS BUSH? Some of you think I’m a toady; a gay man says the Church scandal is about homosexuality; and why ‘innocent before proved guilty’ is a principle that should be kept in the courtroom, not public discourse. All on the Letters Page.

A CONSERVATIVE CATHOLIC’S SKEPTICISM: If you log on to National Review’s excellent website, you’ll occasionally notice an hysterical pop-up ad, blaring that “liberals and homosexuals” are conspiring to corrupt Catholicism. It’s plugging a book by one Michael Rose, a very traditional Catholic. No, I haven’t read the book, despite Rod Dreher’s plugs. The hysterical tone of its advocates put me off. But I was intrigued to see it criticized by another conservative catholic, Amy Wellborn, on her fine blog. Here’s her analysis:

Goodbye! Good Men may contain lots of stories, and most of those stories may be true, but the fact is, this book is not a comprehensive look at all seminary education in the United States and shouldnx92t be read as such. In order to really prove his thesis that there has a been a church-wide conspiracy against the orthodox and the straight, Rose would have to get data from many dioceses, seminaries and religious orders about how many candidates have applied, how many of those have been turned away, and what the reasons for dismissal were. He might even have had to personally visit some of the seminaries which he critiques and do on-site reporting, rather that relying on the testimony of only the dissatisfied. As it is, all we have in Goodbye! Good Men is the story of what happened to a self-selected group of men who attended particular seminaries. Itx92s their stories, more often than not anonymously related. Itx92s their side of their stories.

If that’s true, it sounds like a case-study in fish-in-barrel journalism. Caveat lector.

MGM AND HIV: An interesting story about male genital mutilation (aka circumcision) and HIV. A new study suggests that the inside foreskin is particularly susceptible to infection with HIV. But what are the odds of men contracting HIV in this way from women? Or even from another man? Cases of HIV infection from female to male or from bottom to top are rare indeed. This seems like a stretch to me. A far likelier cause of HIV infection from women to men is other STDs, sores and lesions – many of which are exacerbated by sex with mutilated penises. What I want to know is why there hasn’t been mounds of research to create HIV-resistant lubricants for hereos and homos. That could help protect the inner foreskin as well. But it would counter the notion that the only real solution is abstinence (true but highly unrealistic). Anyway here’s the story. Keep reading andrewsullivan.com for all those indispensable circumcision debate developments.

MARRIAGE NOW: A striking new Zogby poll among gays and lesbians finds one important result. Marriage rights are now easily the most urgent priority for gay men and lesbians – or at least those identified by these survey-takers. Around half – 47 percent – placed equal marriage rights as the most important goal for the gay rights movement. The closest competitor was protection against discrimination in the workplace, with 16 percent. A full 83 percent put marriage as one of the top three goals for the movement. This may seem unsurprising to many. But if you take a look at the last decade or so in gay rights, you’ll see a phenomenal change. When some of us first broached the idea of equality in marriage, we were savaged by the gay establishment. Marriage – some leftist activists complained – was patriarchal, assimilationist, pseudo-religious, sexist, and on and on. Those of us who persisted in making the argument had to take on both the social right and the radical left to make our case. Some left-wing allies soon came around; but the mainstream gay groups were never comfortable with the idea. The Human Rights Campaign did everything it could to bury the issue and even now hates using the m-word for fear of upsetting their older, partisan donors. But the marriage issue is real; it matters; and the silent majority of gay men and women understand its centrality to the question of gay equality. That’s enormously encouraging. There were times in the last fifteen years of campaigning on the subject that I felt almost numb repeating the arguments, making the speeches, doing the talk-shows, attempting to get some pro-marriage voices in the gay press, supporting the real workers in this battle – the lawyers and activists and religious people and lesbian mothers, who saw better than many why this was so important. So forgive me a moment of celebration that more and more people “get it.” It’s especially encouraging to see the highest levels of support among the younger generations and among lesbians. I always believed that marriage would turn out to be a primarily lesbian issue. So much for claims of patriarchy. Now let’s hope the national gay rights organizations get the message, and keep at it until they catch up with the people they are supposed to represent.

A MIDDLE EAST BREAKTHROUGH

The Onion has the scoop.