Political Animal

Tim Henman: The Harold Stassen of Wimbledon?

TIM HENMAN: THE HAROLD STASSEN OF WIMBLEDON?….The Guardian asks today about British tennis hero Tim Henman, “Can he do it?”

Short answer: no. Long answer: read the story and find out. The Brits sure are hard on their sports icons, aren’t they?

(Looking at the current draw, he really ought to at least get to the finals this year. But he probably won’t. The Brits may be hard on their sports icons, but they seem to be remarkably clear-eyed and resigned to the truth too.)


OPPOSITES….Do opposites attract? New science says no!

The theory that opposites attract is a myth, say a group of U.S. scientists who have found men and women are more likely to choose partners who are similar — or they believe are similar — to themselves.

Both sexes are most likely to attract individuals who look like them and have the same wealth, social status and share the same outlook towards family and fidelity, the new research suggests.

Well, that’s fine, I never believed all that “opposites attract” nonsense anyway. But even so, check out the methodology for this study:

The results were based on questionnaires by 978 students aged between 18 and 24. Respondents were asked to rank the importance they placed on 10 attributes in a long-term partner.

The students were then asked to rate themselves based on the same attributes.

You’ve got to be kidding. These guys are pronouncing on “preference for long-term partners” based on a single self-reporting survey given to a highly nonrepresentative group of socioeconomically elite 20-year-olds? With not even a nod to what preferences people display in the real world and what the long-term outcomes of those preferences are?

Crikey. I could probably do research on my blog as good as this.

The Great WMD Hunt

THE GREAT WMD HUNT….This has been blogged all over the place, but it deserves every bit of attention it’s getting. So here again, in case you haven’t seen it yet, is Time magazine’s description of the WMD hunt in Iraq:

Meeting last month at a sweltering U.S. base outside Doha, Qatar, with his top Iraq commanders, President Bush skipped quickly past the niceties and went straight to his chief political obsession: Where are the weapons of mass destruction? Turning to his Baghdad proconsul, Paul Bremer, Bush asked, “Are you in charge of finding WMD?” Bremer said no, he was not. Bush then put the same question to his military commander, General Tommy Franks. But Franks said it wasn’t his job either. A little exasperated, Bush asked, So who is in charge of finding WMD? After aides conferred for a moment, someone volunteered the name of Stephen Cambone, a little-known deputy to Donald Rumsfeld, back in Washington. Pause. “Who?” Bush asked.

The problem here isn’t that Bush doesn’t know who Stephen Cambone is, the problem is that he had no idea even in general terms who was responsible for finding WMD. Doesn’t this make it pretty obvious that the WMD hunt is a bit less than a high priority for him?

After all the crap that Howard Dean got for not knowing to the nearest percent how many American troops were stationed overseas, you’d think a few more people would have picked up on this. But that would only happen if we had, you know, a liberal media….

The Free Market at Work

THE FREE MARKET AT WORK….Over in The Corner yesterday, Jonah Goldberg spent four or five posts desperately trying to find a “practical” solution to telemarketing calls that doesn’t involve government regulation. He is “ideologically torn” here, acknowledges that “many Americans just want to make the phone stop ringing” here, continues to beg someone ? anyone! ? to provide a “politically workable solution” here, and agrees that the do-not-call registry is just another case of nanny-state-ism here.

Poor Jonah, all this angst over a minor government program that allows people to express their preference about the free market in junk telemarketing calls. You know, from watching The Sopranos I’ve learned that apparently there’s also a “market” (in New Jersey, anyway) for “bumping off” people, and it works pretty efficiently. Unfortunately, the damn feds keep interfering in this industry, causing all manner of market distortions for Tony Soprano and his business associates. Damn shame, that.

Sarcasm aside, though, there’s a serious point here and Goldberg himself realizes it:

From internet porn in libraries to spam to telemarketers, technology is exposing the ossified nature of government bureaucracy. What I’m interested in is whether or not there is a realistic political strategy for keeping Americans from demanding that the government fix these new problems. If that’s possible, then government can be shrunk over time as the society outgrows it. Unfortunately, I’m not optimistic about the project’s chances.

The fact that Goldberg even bothers writing about this shows the ridiculous lengths to which conservative ideology goes in its efforts to deny that there is any legitimate form of human decision making other than free market forces. Yesterday’s exchange is just a micro example of the bankruptcy of this view, and a rather desperate attempt to avoid the obvious conclusion that the easiest, best, and cheapest way to deal with this problem is, indeed, the ossified bureaucracy of the federal government.

(And I wonder if Goldberg knows it? A few days ago he suggested that social conservatives should just give up the fight on gay marriage, and now he’s admitting that the free market doesn’t seem to have a solution for everything. Perhaps the NRO Borg is losing its grip on him?)