Political Animal


THE LAST PALM TREE….One of my favorite books of the last few years was Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel (review here), and apparently Diamond has a forthcoming book about how societies deal (or fail to deal) with environmental catastrophes, which sounds fascinating. Luckily for Mark Kleiman, who is a professor at UCLA, Diamond is also a professor at UCLA, so Mark got to attend a lecture today on the topic of the book. His report is here.

OUR DIVA PRESIDENT….Jonathan Hendry sends

OUR DIVA PRESIDENT….Jonathan Hendry sends along this piquant item from the BBC:

The White House asked if President Bush could address the European Parliament, Baroness Williams revealed on BBC One’s This Week show on Thursday. But, she said, Euro-MPs were told there was a condition attached to him making the speech: a standing ovation should be guaranteed. The speech has never taken place.

What is he, a movie star or something?


IT’S TOO BAD TOM CLANCY DOESN’T HAVE A BLOG….I realize that surfing around the warblogger sites and continuously mocking them doesn’t really do any good, ultimately. Grains of sand and beaches, you know.

Still, we do what we can and occasionally I run across something so wildly out of touch with reality that it practically invites abuse. Here is Patrick Ruffini today analyzing world affairs:

Meanwhile, France’s last act will have been to demonstrate its utter futility in world affairs, and for what purpose?

Exactly why is it that warbloggers insist that voting against the United States demonstrates other countries’ “utter futility”? Is that the fate of anyone who votes against mighty America? If so, it’s a long list.

However, the reason for Patrick’s disdain toward anyone who disagrees with us soon becomes obvious. Apparently he has been reading lots of Tom Clancy novels about the ever-growing power of the U.S. military:

Soaking all this in it dawns on me that it isn’t inconceivable that, if these gains continue into the relatively near future, the U.S. could pop a Saddam-sized dictator every three to six months. Under these circumstances, the shallow European criticism, “What are you going to do, kill every dictator?” doesn’t sound that implausible or unattractive.

I wonder how many warbloggers agree with this kind of thinking? Are they seriously under the impression that the world can be made a safer place by knocking off miscellaneous dictators a few times a year? And that this would, somehow, reduce the threat from terrorism? And that either (a) we can also help rebuild several countries a year or (b) we don’t need to bother?

I suppose there’s really no need to answer that, is there?

UPDATE: Patrick responds here.


FRIVOLOUS CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS….Inspired by last night’s festivities, I would like to propose a constitutional amendment:

Amendment XXVIII

Section 1. The president of the United States shall be required to hold a press conference no less often than once every week. The length of said press conference shall be no less than two hours.

Section 2. The president shall be allowed to have no advisors present to assist him at press conferences.

Section 3. Each press conference shall include eleven reporters, nine to be selected by members of the House of Representatives and two to be selected by members of the Senate. Each house may enact its own rules for specifying the order in which its members select reporters, with the proviso that every member must be allowed to select a reporter at least once per year. Members may select only reporters who have been accredited via the standing rules of their house.

Section 4. Alternate press conferences shall be made available for radio and television broadcast. Transcripts of all press conferences shall be made publicly available via the internet as soon as practicable, and in no case later than six hours after the end of the conference.

Section 5. The Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

So what do you think? Congress ought to go for it since it gives them the chance to curry favor with the press, so all we need is three-quarters of the states. Should be a piece of cake!

UPDATE: Tim Dunlop has a modest suggestion that might be a little less complicated than my idea.