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August 31, 2004


Speaking of which, did you see that response when the twins introduced not their mother but their father? I don't know if the delegates had expected that, but the didn't act like they had. They seemed genuinely surprised - and their expressions of surprise were mixed with expressions of admiration. They cheered the president when they saw him on the big screen, and you got the sense it was because they were genuinely happy to see him up there.

Posted by David Mader at 11:44 PM | (1) | Back to Main

I Like Barbara More

Unlike many, I didn't like Arnold's speech, as I explain below. But I did like Laura's, which apparently polled well with women.

And I also liked the Bush twins' appearance, though of course from an objective PR perspective it was terrible. More important than the message projected, however, is the message received - and I think that many a viewer would have seen Barbara and Jenna's clumsy and immature delivery and thought, 'sheesh, my girls and their friends act exactly like that.' I thought they came across not as pampered children of a family dynasty but the still-adjusting daughters of a down-to-earth couple. Many folks don't think that our president, hypothetically or actually, should be a 'regular guy.' Apparently, lots of regular guys disagree. And I think the girls' brief appearance will only reinforce their admiration for the regular guy who currently holds the job.

Posted by David Mader at 11:42 PM | (1) | Back to Main

Freedom at Home II

I thought it would be Andrew Sullivan; in fact it's Roger Simon. The voice is different, but the message is the same - and it's not wrong.

Posted by David Mader at 11:34 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Guided By Ideals

"Our nation has not always lived up to its ideals, but those ideals have always continued to guide us."

That's Laura Bush. And it is, I think, the key distinction between the messages of the parties, the reason Democrats will continue to struggle to construct a coalition beyond its coastal urban strongholds. Staunch Republicans understand that America is not an unqualified meritocracy - and it was that recognition i missed in Arnold's speech - but they believe, deeply and strongly, that it should be. Staunch Democrats understand that America is not an unqualified meritocracy, and they believe, deeply and strongly, that it (perhaps therefore) should not be.

I say 'perhaps' because I think that the average party Democrat, presented with a hypothetical ability to realize an unqualified meritocracy, would hem and haw, ultimately deciding that it is an impossibility and so not to be strived for endlessly. Instead, this party Democrat would advocate engaging the coercive powers of the state in order to achieve the best result under the circumstances.

That's an entirely defensible position wholly compatible with humanitarian and reasonable motives, and I'm not knocking it. But that attitude, illustrated in the above example but applicable to a host of political and ideological questions, represents a clear difference in message and tone between the parties. So long as Democrats continue to exhibit an ambivalence about the tenets of America's civil religion - tenets, I would suggest, that everyone understands to be mythological rather than actual - they will continue to act defensively regarding their patriotism, and will continue to struggle to win the confidence, and votes, of middle America.

Posted by David Mader at 11:10 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Arnold Speech

I didn't like it. Where Giuliani reached out, Arnie spoke to the base. Where McCain acknowledged differences, Arnold glossed and downplayed. There were good parts - the immigration bits were a good idea reasonably well-executed, - but much of it was silly. I don't think it will do any damage, but I don't think it would sway those undecided voters.

Now Laura... that's a different story.

Posted by David Mader at 10:36 PM | (2) | Back to Main


Is about to speak. If there's anybody else in America - or Canada, for that matter - who has highspeed but no TV and wants to watch the convention, CSPAN has a life feed somewhere around here.

Posted by David Mader at 10:01 PM | (0) | Back to Main

How to Run a Student Paper

This morning I mentioned an article in the Daily Texan, and while I was hard on the article itself I want to take a second to sing some praises for the paper. First, as my earlier post suggests, the Texan syndicates Associated Press articles, meaning national and international news is freely available on campus. For those of us who a) get most of our news from the 'net and b) don't want to shell out for a subscription to a major daily, the Texan's decision to carry real news is fantastic.

Second, the paper carries - as far as I can tell - a real diversity of opinion. Today's edition, for instance, has a great column by a senior about media bias and the rise of alternative sources of information. (He cites Glenn Reynolds and Virginia Postrel by name). The same edition carries a column about market failure in disaster circumstances. Sure, it's ideologically slanted. But it's much more reasonable than your standard college-rag missive.

In my four years at McGill, I think I actually read the Daily - published only twice weekly - about a dozen times. (I distinguish 'reading' from 'glancing at'). In my week at UT, I've already found the Daily Texan a must-read. At this rate it will surpass McGill's Daily in a fortnight.

Posted by David Mader at 06:00 PM | (3) | Back to Main

I Was Saying Boo-Urns

My traffic has spiked today as folks come looking form information regarding the booing of John Kerry's daughters at the MTV Video Music Awards in Miami on Saturday.

The Big Media line, you'll recall, is that the President's daughters were also booed. That may be so - I haven't seen a tape. But it sure doesn't explain away this:

At the mention of her father [Kerry], the booing could be heard to grow louder, as the two stood in front of a large video backdrop depicting clouds sailing across a blue sky.

Doesn't really conform to the 'pox-on-both-your-houses' explanation, does it? And I imagine Alexandra Kerry's 'quiet, children' gesture will rub some the wrong way as well (see below).


Posted by David Mader at 02:09 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Less Lethal

Suicide bombers destroyed two buses in southern Israel today, killing fifteen.

It's hard to find a silver lining in attacks like these, especially when they come after a long lull. Some may find what I'm about to do macabre, so proceed with discretion.

Here's a picture of a bus destroyed in Jerusalem in January:

And here's a picture of a bus attacked today:

Notice a difference? The January explosion blew the roof off the bus, and left only a shell. Today's explosiondid internal damage but left the bus substantially intact.

In other words, aside from targetting a region historically imune from terror, the attackers seem to have been using much less powerful ordinance.

We mourn every murder, every death, and I don't want to trivialize the attack in any way. But this attack, though terrible, is a far cry from the terror Hamas sowed at the height of its power.

Posted by David Mader at 12:52 PM | (0) | Back to Main

It's As If They Have a Bias

Here's the final paragraph of an article that appeared in today's Daily Texan (a longer version is available here):

[McCain] also omitted any references to the Vietnam War, which has become an issue in this year's campaign because of the contrast between Kerry's service there and Bush's time in the Texas National Guard at the height of the war.

Right, right, that's why it's become an issue in this year's campaign.

UPDATE (right away): Actually, the more I think about it, the more I find this paragraph revealing. Because the issue Fram (the 'reporter') highlights - the contrast between Bush's Guard service and Kerry's Vietnam service - is precisely the reason Democrats have (or had initially) put an emphasis on the question of Vietnam. In other words, what Fram cites as explanation of the prominence of Vietnam is in fact simply the justification for that emphasis given by the Democratic Party.

Or, in brief: he's reporting talking points as fact.

Posted by David Mader at 10:34 AM | (0) | Back to Main

August 30, 2004

Not the Conservative Party

Mark Steyn, perhaps the only major columnist currently in print with a detailed understanding of both British and American politics, weighs in on the White House/Howard flap. He's not impressed with the Tory leader either.

Posted by David Mader at 11:50 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Freedom At Home

Expect Andrew Sullivan to take Giuliani to task for his comments on the GOP 'expanding freedom at home' in light of the push for a Federal Marriage Amendment. Sullivan won't be entirely wrong, either - although seeing as a) the GOP controls Congress and b) the amendment hasn't passed any house (heck, it hasn't even been voted on), it's quite possible to overstate the influence - and power - of the FMA-wing of the party.

Then again, the issue might be moot in any case - in another few years, if not now.

Posted by David Mader at 11:39 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Rudy's Speech

Available here. Pretty good, as convention speeches go. It seems to be divided into three main themes or sections: 1) September 11; 2) Leadership and the contrast between Bush and Kerry; and 3) Expanding democracy and freedom in order to win the war on terror.

But here's what jumped out at me:

Terrorism did not start on September 11, 2001. It had been festering for many years. And the world had created a response to it that allowed it to succeed. The attack on the Israeli team at the Munich Olympics was in 1972. And the pattern had already begun. The three surviving terrorists were arrested and within two months released by the German government.

Action like this became the rule, not the exception. Terrorists came to learn they could attack and often not face consequences. In 1985, terrorists attacked the Achille Lauro and murdered an American citizen who was in a wheelchair, Leon Klinghoffer. They marked him for murder solely because he was Jewish. Some of those terrorists were released and some of the remaining terrorists allowed to escape by the Italian government because of fear of reprisals...

Terrorist acts became a ticket to the international bargaining table. How else to explain Yasser Arafat winning the Nobel Peace Prize when he was supporting a terrorist plague in the Middle East that undermined any chance of peace?[...]

In October, 2003, [Kerry] told an Arab-American Institute in Detroit that a security barrier separating Israel from the Palestinian Territories was a "barrier to peace." A few months later, he took exactly the opposite position. In an interview with the Jerusalem Post he said, "Israel's security fence is a legitimate act of self defense."[...]

President Bush has also focused on the correct long-term answer for the violence and hatred emerging from the Middle East. The hatred and anger in the Middle East arises from the lack of accountable governments. Rather than trying to grant more freedom, create more income, improve education and basic health care, these governments deflect their own failures by pointing to America and Israel and other external scapegoats...

People who live in freedom always prevail over people who live in oppression. That's the story of the Old Testament. That's the story of World War II and the Cold War.

That's six explicit references to Judaism or Israel in a relatively short speech. Michael Moore Democrats are going to just love that.

But I don't mean to make light of it; I think it's actually remarkable. Giuliani is making explicit and unqualified the connection between the terror Israel has faced for decades and the terror now confronting the rest of the western and democratic world. Many, even in Washington, continue to reject that association. Many cheers to Giuliani and the GOP for disregarding the serpentine whispers of 'Zionist cabals' and 'neoconservatism' and stating outright what is so patently obvious: that we are fighting one war, with Israel on our side and her enemies - and the enemies of the Jewish people - on the other.

Posted by David Mader at 11:34 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Paging Mr. Coyne...

Anybody seen him lately?

Posted by David Mader at 07:42 PM | (0) | Back to Main

In the Drink

Not sure how much I believe this:

A new study throws cold water on the image of students drinking their nights and weekends away.

The Canadian Centre for Social Norms and Research examined the perception of how much students drink and how much they actually consume.

The centre says 63 per cent of the more than 5,000 college and university students questioned drink twice per month or less.

But 80 per cent students believe their peers typically drink once per week or more often.

The suggestion is that college kids a) don't drink that much but b) believe that all their peers do.

That's one way to interpret the data. Another is that when asked point-blank whether they drink a lot, students understate their consumption; but when invited to describe the habits of their unnamed peers, they give a more accurate answer.

To be honest, I think college drinking is overstated. But an awful lot of it does go on, which is why I have trouble accepting the findings of this report.

Posted by David Mader at 07:27 PM | (3) | Back to Main

Allawi to France: Put Up

The ascendance of Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi was widely seen, earlier this summer, as a political defeat for the Americans and particularly for the Pentagon, whose favoured Iraqi National Congress was largely shut out of the interim government.

But if Allawi is no friend of Washington, he certainly seems to be reading from their script:

"The French, like all democratic countries, cannot let themselves be satisfied with adopting a passive position," Allawi told Le Monde in an interview.

"Governments that decide to stay on the defensive will be the next terrorist targets," Allawi said.

"Let me tell you that the French, despite all the noise they are making, (such as) 'We don't want war', will soon have to fight against terrorists," he said, adding that future attacks could happen in French cities as well as in the United States.

Ouch. The truth is that Paris, despite it's mewling, is actually quite active behind the scenes in the war on terror; Chirac may be an asshole (pardon my French), but he's not an idiot. But kudos to Allawi for, if nothing else, highlighting France's weasely position. Now that Frenchmen are being held captive, perhaps Paris will begin to understand that anti-American rhetoric will not sway those who see the world divided between infidels and believers.

Posted by David Mader at 05:00 PM | (0) | Back to Main


The Telegraph opines on the spat between the Bush White House and British Tory leader Michael Howard, which I mentioned here.

The paper is right, of course, that as natural political soulmates, the GOP and the Conservative Party should be able to see the forest for the trees and overcome their present disagreement. But the Telegraph's editors seem genuinely mystified that a 'petty squabble' has led to the worst relations between the parties in recent memory.

In fact, it should be no surprise at all. Since September 11, Tony Blair has been as close a friend to President Bush as any other figure in the public world, risking his political career to stand on principles which he declared to be right and just. Michael Howard, in his short career in the leader's office, has by contrast played politics with the White House's stated objectives and ideals in order to gain a political leg up on Blair.

Tony Blair has been a friend to President Bush. Michael Howard, whatever his political inclinations, has not. Unless the Telegraph's editors - and Britons in general - understand the importance of that simple notion of friendship to George Bush, they will not begin to understand the essence of his presidency and character.

Posted by David Mader at 02:52 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Much Ado

In comments to a post below, M. Simon suggests that the Pentago/Israeli Spy story is really about competition between the FBI and the Pentagon. David Frum agrees, suggesting that a non-story was leaked by someone at the FBI precisely because a long investigation had revealed no espionage.

It just makes you feel all dirty inside.

Posted by David Mader at 11:56 AM | (1) | Back to Main

What The-?

I don't think this was in the script. From Drudge:

MTV, ROLLING STONE and the rock and roll establishment -- past and present -- have cast their vote, and their man is John Kerry.

So on Sunday night when John Kerry's daughters were announced to speak at the annual MTV VIDEO MUSIC AWARDS, the MTV youth were expected to welcome his daughter's as pop culture princesses.

Instead, in an era of the unexpected, the daughters of the Democratic candidate were met with a resounding wall of boos at the filming in Miami.

From the moment Alexandra and Vanessa started speaking, the boos outweighed anything close to cheers, and the reaction turned worse when the daughters asked the VIACOM youth to vote for their father. So shocked by the reaction, the taller of the two daughters tried to 'shhhhhh' her peers to no avail.

Wowza. Is this a meaningless blip - or one of those moments that defines a campaign?

UPDATE (00:51 EDT 8/30/04): Apparently the AP doesn't find the above noteworthy. All they have to say about the Kerry girls' appearance is this:

The daughters of John Kerry and President Bush made an appearance — the Bush daughters via videotape — to urge people to vote.

More big-media bias? Or was this report simply written before the show had actually been taped?

Or maybe they were never booed at all.

UPDATE (12:22 EDT 8/30/04): Apparently the story now is that everyone was booed. Mmm-hmm.

Posted by David Mader at 12:46 AM | (3) | Back to Main

August 29, 2004


This is bad, and could get much, much worse. The absolute worst, of course, would be the discovery that this guy was on payroll. More likely, I think, is that he approached the Israelis with information which they accepted from him. Big mistake. Best-case: this is all nothing. No, I don't think so either.

There are an awful lot of people in America, especially among the Jewish community, who continue to hold a candle for Jonathan Pollard. I want to go on record saying that I am not one of them. The best way for Israel to maintain its tremendous relationship with the United States, and to enjoy almost unrestricted access to American intelligence, is to be open and honest in matters of espionage. The proper response to the approach of any individual with sensitive information is to report the individual to the FBI. I can only hope, like Natan Sharansky, that this is some sort of terrible mistake. Because one way or another, it's bound to be terrible.

Posted by David Mader at 11:11 PM | (1) | Back to Main

You Know What Would Be Nice?

It would be nice if Dan Rather could spell the name of the Vice-President of the United States. It's 'Cheney', Mr. Rather. Or do they have your teleprompter in phoenetics?

Look, I don't want to make a mountain out of a molehill, but what is it with these people? Aren't they supposed to be smarter than us?

Posted by David Mader at 08:00 PM | (0) | Back to Main

August 28, 2004

Aussies Going to the Polls

Howard set to call for October 9th.

The media will frame this as yet another test of the 'coalition' leaders, being those leaders who supported the liberation of Iraq. Aznar's loss in Spain has set the narrative for this story, which will continue only so long as the leaders in question lose office. If Howard wins, expect the story to go quiet. If Howard wins and then Bush wins, expect the story to disappear.

But this election is more important that political bickering, because in a sense the 'coalition' leaders are precisely the leaders we need in office right now. Together with Tony Blair¹, John Howard has been America's closest friend and ally in the years since September 11, pursuing an anglospheric foreign policy while stressing a classically-liberal agenda at home (as far as I understand). The longer he and the ideas he represents remain predominant in Australia, the better.

¹ Which is one reason I have trouble feeling sorry for Tory Leader Michael Howard, whose Tories are once again even with Labour even as Howard is rebuffed by the White House for his opportunism over the war in Iraq. Even Howard's reply to Bush demonstrates his failure to get the big picture or to overcome his unfortunate willingness to sacrifice principle to politics. Remember when Howard was supposed to overcome all the 'failures' of former Tory leader Ian Duncan Smith? Congratulations, Tories: you screwed the pooch dumping your leader, and your new man has just gone on with the screwing.

Posted by David Mader at 10:25 PM | (4) | Back to Main

On Message

Three stories, all pulled from Drudge:

1) Montreal Man Downed U.S. Plane, CSIS Told

2) Russia Finds Explosive Traces on 2nd Plane

3) 2 Nailed In Herald Square Subway Blast Plot

All this terrorism in the news. And the Republican National Convention, which will nominate President Bush, kicks off on Monday. Take it away, tinfoil hat brigade.

Posted by David Mader at 10:14 PM | (0) | Back to Main

August 27, 2004

Sowing, Reaping, Not Having a Clue

February 4, 2004:

PETER MANSBRIDGE: In spite of whatever else your administration may achieve through whatever length of time it's in office, if you leave office without some resolution or a clear path to resolution on this issue, will it be a failure then?

PAUL MARTIN: I have said essentially that there are two areas that I will deem my mandate to have been a failure. One is the issue of western alienation, which I don't believe is a myth. I think it is a reality, and I am determined to do something about it.

August 27, 2004:

[Alberta Premier Ralph] Klein has announced he will essentially boycott next month's first ministers conference on health care...

He will return home, leaving Martin and the other premiers to negotiate the agreement that the prime minister has said is necessary to ensure medicare's long-term sustainability.

Ah. Didn't see that one coming, did you Mr. Martin? And then there's this:

Now, after having been reduced to a potentially unstable minority government, Martin must deliver on medicare reform. And he's starting to realize it won't be easy.

I do hope he's not just starting to realize it. Paul Martin should either thank his lucky stars his negative campaign kept him in office at all - or he should curse the powers that be who have kept him there. The longer he's in office, the more he reveals the value - such as it is - of his political wisdom.

Posted by David Mader at 08:19 PM | (0) | Back to Main

If Bush Did This...

Tell me, do all Washington Post reporters spell this poorly? I thought reporters were supposed to be, you know, that much smarter than everyone else.

Posted by David Mader at 07:50 PM | (0) | Back to Main

I Live in a Different Country

Just heard an ad on the radio for the 'Phantom' radar detector. It's apparently so effective that the manufacturer will pay any ticket a user incurs. One of the draws in the ad, of course, was that the device is illegal in many states.


Oh, also, it's not illegal to ride around in the back of a truck here (I believe it's restricted in Ontario, but maybe somebody wants to check me on that). I learned that first hand. You just have to be over 14.

Posted by David Mader at 06:07 PM | (4) | Back to Main

August 26, 2004

You Know You're a Conservative When...

I conceived of this post last night, and it was originally supposed to consist only of the headline above and the following comment:

"... you find yourself nodding at the dissents in Griswold."

Griswold v. Connecticut was the case in which the Supreme Court found a 'right of privacy' in the Constitution which it then used to declare a Connecticut law proscribing the use (not purchase, sale or manufacture) of contraceptives unconstitutional.

Well, we spent about an hour of ConLaw today talking about it, and I'm all turned around. But if anything, I feel less conservative than I did while reading the case. We intuitively favor the outcome - most of us think that contraceptives should be available to adults, and that adults should be free to use them. But - without going into the Court's constitutional arguments, since I a) don't know them and b) don't understand them - I found the decision and a number of the joining opinions largely unpersuasive, filled with the now (in-)famous language about 'penumbras' which comes across as tremendously wishy-washy. One joining opinion was a little more clear-cut, largely citing the ninth amendment (reserving unenumerated rights to the states or the people). But the basic argument of the dissenting justices - that there is no enumerated right to privacy in the constitution, and that any 'penumbra' judgment is no more than the expression of the political and moral biases of the majority, is both rational and persuasive.

And I was a little surprised to find that a number of my classmates disagreed with the ruling as well. And now I find myself, as I say, all turned around. I don't believe that the state (being either the federal or (perhaps?) any State government) has the enumerated power to regulate such private activity, but I'm not sure that the Constitution provides the means necessary to sustain a federal judicial challenge to such a regulation.

But see, here's the thing: we're not really talking about Griswold. We'll come back to it, and when we do I have a feeling the discussion will be on much different terms - and we'll all be better prepared and able to make our arguments. The purpose in looking at Griswold right now, I think, is precisely to have us turn our assumptions and opinions upside-down, to have us recognize the form of legal reasoning, to have us apply such legal reasoning to cases which touch upon familiar political debates, and to have us recognize how such legal reasoning totally re-frames the questions we thought we'd begun to answer.

It's working.

Posted by David Mader at 11:27 PM | (1) | Back to Main

Al Masri Charged - Again

Here's an interesting piece of news: 'firebrand' cleric 'Abu Hamza' Al Masri, who preached at the notorious Finsbury Park mosque in London and who was detained by British authorities following an American indictment earlier this year, has been arrested by the Crown on suspicion of involvement in terrorist activity.

It sounds like there's a story here - I'm quite confident that American and British counterterrorism authorities are in regular contact, and so the question is whether this move reflects a positive or a negative state of relations. Either way, I'm happy to have this fellow behind bars.

Posted by David Mader at 04:16 PM | (0) | Back to Main

How to Distinguish Between the Wise and the Stupid

Apparently the wise say really, really incredibly stupid - and politically damaging - things in front of the press.

UPDATE: Paul Wells disagrees.

UPDATE - II: Sorry, I realize this is old news. I'm just getting back into the swing of things. Or whatever that saying is.

Posted by David Mader at 03:57 PM | (4) | Back to Main

8:30 ConLaw


(I know I've been overindulging in the, uh, 'voyeuristic' side of the new format. I blame it on a lack of consistent internet access, as well as the fact that I'm still trying to figure out the balance between work and not-work. Four hours of Constitutional Law and Torts last night without noticing: a bad sign).

Posted by David Mader at 09:09 AM | (1) | Back to Main

August 25, 2004


Well, now, that wasn't so bad.

The consensus is that our prof a) is a nice guy and b) was taking it easy on us. Provided one had read the case (either twice or closely; I admit I did both) (well, thrice but twice closely), one would have been quite able to follow along. There was one interesting point raised which I hadn't picked up on, and the treatment of the case was instructive - I think I have a bit better of an idea how to be reading, and I hope and imagine that will grow over time.

As for the Socratic method - readers may know that the standard first-year class tends to be conducted according to the aforementioned method, in which the professor asks a student a series of questions in order to tease out the points he or she is hoping to highlight. It's interesting because it causes the rest of the class to think alongside the unfortunate student, and although the professor lectured for the first half-hour (at least), the socratic section was easily as informative.

Again, though, the consensus among a few of us was that the prof wasn't hard at all on the student(s) on the spot; he didn't hammer, but rather led - and softly. Whether this is his preferred style of teaching or whether he's just breaking us in I can't yet say.

Best moment:

Student: ... the idea of fairness.
Professor: Could you spell that out for us?
Student: Uh, 'fairness'? Um, 'F-'...

Anyway, that was that and it was a-ok. Time to go read Marbury v. Madison by the pool.

I could get used to this.

Posted by David Mader at 06:37 PM | (2) | Back to Main

Day One

First day of classes today... or, I should say, first day of 'class.' Torts this afternoon, but I've got some things to take care of and I still don't have internet (or a phone, for that matter) at home so I'm at the school using the wireless. Thanks for all the feedback - I didn't realize how many people were still reading! I'ma be busy for a bit - applying for a SocSec number, and then reviewing for class (I'm going to try this 'briefing the case' business).

(A side note on that: during orientation, one of the speakers talked a lot about briefing cases for class, how you shouldn't spend much time on it, but how it's very useful to get you thinking the right way about the material. But I guess he assumed that everybody in the room was a law-school keener. Or maybe I was the only fool who'd gotten to this point without ever actually looking very deeply into the law school experience. (Sub-bracket: I've never seen The Paper Chase). So I didn't know what a brief is. I've sort of got an idea now, though I again sort of figure it's something I'll learn as time goes on).

Okay, that was an uninteresting aside. There you have it. I'll report back on torts. If that kind of thing doesn't interest you, I have designs to read the news this afternoon as well, and that means some punditry. And if that doesn't interest you either... um... I could dance?

Posted by David Mader at 11:57 AM | (4) | Back to Main

August 24, 2004

Living in the Past

When I finally checked back into the world of news on Sunday, I was a little surprised to find that the SwiftVets were still in the news. How much I've missed. It really does seem as though the Kerry campaign completely failed to anticipate the issue - despite the tremendous amount of help they've received from the mainstream press in (first) diminishing and (later) spinning the story.

Steyn is also amusing. I wonder, though, what sort of impact the whole affair is having on the numbers - which will be a function, I'd imagine, of the number of undecided voters paying attention during a) the summer and b) the Olympics (are those still going on?). As many have said, I don't think many undecided voters are going to make up their minds until the two weeks before the election. That being said, I really don't see what more Kerry has to bring to the table - he's made Vietnam the centrepiece of his campaign to the exclusion, it seems, of all else - and I truly don't believe that the Bush campaign has yet begun to fight.

I'd expect the RNC to knock the swiftboat affair to the sidelines and to introduce a series of messages, lasting from now to the election, upon which Bush will base his true reelection appeal. Unless the Kerry campaign can improve their message-handling, they're going to have a rough couple of months. That doesn't mean Bush will win, but from a political junkie's perspective it may get difficult to watch.

Posted by David Mader at 02:42 PM | (0) | Back to Main


Just finished orientation here at the law school. It was helpful, by in large, and especially because it brougt all 450 of us together as a class (and, more importantly, it brought our 30-odd person subsections together). The 'substantive' sessions were interesting, if not entirely practical, and seemed designed mostly to emphasize 1) that law school isn't what you think it is; 2) that first year will be exceedingly difficult and frustrating at times, and 3) that you shouldn't stress about it. The director of student life ended the program by suggesting that we compare first year to a roller coaster: once it's going there's nothing you can do about it, so you might as well sit back and enjoy the ride.

I just had visions of writing a memo on a roller-coaster.

But I think that for all the exhortations and reassurances by the faculty and staff and older students, there will be those students who get it and those who don't. There will be those who spend all their time working and those who don't work nearly enough and those who strike a balance, and I have a feeling that grades will have only a loose correlation to those categories. There will be those who focus on rules and regulations and those who understand how to think like a lawyer and those who manage to apply the latter to the former. But until you get into it, I don't think you can really know what to expect. So while it's nice to hear that everybody gets frustrated and everybody gets at least some (and probably quite a few) bad marks, I'm not sure just how much it means - or can mean - to the entering 1L at this point.

But at least I've met folks and know where my classes are, and this week, at least, that should be enough.

Posted by David Mader at 02:34 PM | (3) | Back to Main

August 22, 2004

That Famous French Culture - III

Paris, AP:

Arsonists destroyed a Jewish community center in eastern Paris in a pre-dawn attack Sunday and left behind anti-Semitic graffiti, police said.

No one was hurt as flames tore through the center located on the first floor of a six-story building. The center, which served as a meeting place and cafeteria for the elderly and disadvantaged, was gutted, rescue officials said.

Apparently the French government is outraged. Those boys must be in more or less a permanent state of outrage, given the frequency of these outrageous events.

Too bad they can't seem to stop them.

Posted by David Mader at 02:10 PM | (1) | Back to Main

Well, Howdy

I'm back. Sorry for the long silence. Truth is, I've been without phone or internet for the better part of a week - but with my new Dell D600 and the University's surprisingly fast wireless network, I'm good to go. (I'm currently sitting in the courtyard of the law school. I could get used to this).

One of the things about being incommunicado is that I've neither seen nor heard nor read any news for the past five days. Did somebody bomb the Olympics? Is the Pope still alive? Is Britney still married/divorced/engaged/newsworthy? I have no idea. There's a part of me itching to get back into the fray, but the vacation has not been unpleasant.

And it occurs to me: a good chunk of my readership (most, I'd imagine, after this summer's supremely lame blogging effort) are friends and family. Now that I'm thousands of miles (well, kilometers) away, I'm tempted to use blogging as a means of staying in touch. So the question is this: should I add to Maderblog a personal component that will (or should) be of interest only to friends and family? Or should I start a whole new blog dedicated singularly the chronicling of my adventures in the Lone Star State? I'm leaning towards the latter, but it has some drawbacks - the cost of running two blogs, for instance. So, dear readers, what do you think? Let me know.

Posted by David Mader at 12:35 PM | (4) | Back to Main

August 18, 2004


So, as Elana sort of mentions, I'm in Texas. Moved down yesterday. This next week will be a hectic one full of getting my life in order; next week school starts. Blogging will be intermittant both because of the above-noted and because I don't have my laptop yet. But I hope to be back soon!

(N.B.: I can't be bothered to spellcheck intermittant.)

Posted by David Mader at 09:14 AM | (5) | Back to Main

August 12, 2004


Well, folks are going to be talking about this for a while. Apparently it was quite the speech. Some are making hay of the fact that the Governor has schedule his engineered his resignation date to avoid a by-election and had the remainder of his term, which expires in 2006, to the Democratic President of the New Jersey Senate. The truth is, there's hay to be made.

But it's worthwhile pausing, if only for a moment, to give this guy some credit. Whether or not he's grandstanding, the fact is that he's admitted an extramarital affair and is surrendering his office - and perhaps his political career - because of it. Yes, that should be a given. But in this day and age, it's a rarity. It's worth acknowledging when it happens.

Posted by David Mader at 11:07 PM | (8) | Back to Main


The Kerry camp is set to claim, according to Drudge, that Kerry was in Cambodia after all, only in January of 1969 rather than at Christmas, 1968. Kerry's repeated statements to the contrary over the years will doubtlessly be explained away as rhetorical flourish, a generalization by which Christmas extended from Thanksgiving to Passover.

But as I said before, I don't find it entirely incredible that Kerry was indeed in Cambodia at some point during his brief tour. The onus will now be on critics to demonstrate that he never was, but Kerry will be safely in tinfoil hat territory, claiming that since the operation was illegal and secret, none of those involved (except himself) would dare disclose it. I fear the Swift Boat Vets and their more vocal champions may now be hoist on their own petard, as their overzealous attention on one detailed fabrication blinded them to the possibility that it rested on a more general - and accurate - foundation.

I maintain that the critics have done a service in highlighting Kerry's conduct during and after the war, and I think it's quite reasonable to conclude that Kerry was, even in 1968, an opportunist who was calculating in his use of military service in order to advance his desired political career. Opportunism in politics is no crime, of course, and the sum total of this revelation may simply be the removal of some of the veneer which has protected Kerry's Vietnam narrative throughout his political life. But, in politics, that may be enough.

Posted by David Mader at 10:43 PM | (2) | Back to Main

Education Sanity

Paul Wells has two must-read post on higher-education funding and policy. I'm not kidding: if you're a Canadian university student, a Canadian parent with kids who have gone, are going or will go through university, or a Canadian who's never seen the inside of the academy, read these two pieces.

Tuition-freezes are all the rage on university campuses, and throughout my time at McGill I was more or less convinces that I was the only student who favored significant tuition increases. Certainly I was the only student I even encountered (if I can be said to have encountered myself) to advocate tuition-hikes openly (with one possible exception).

I think this could be a successful political wedge issue. It's all well and good to argue that, as all society benefits from an educated young person, all society should bear the cost of that education. It's quite another to ask why a trucker from Abitibi should be paying for the university degree of a kid from Outremont - as well as the education of his daughters who'll never make it to PoliSci101. I'm no class warrior, but if we have any commitment at all to social support for lower-income Canadians, this sort of subsidization has got to stop.

Posted by David Mader at 10:21 PM | (5) | Back to Main

August 11, 2004

Sexuality and the Modern Man

Paul Tuns notes that the number of gay (association) football fans is growing, pointing to a Guardian Story which argues that the (British) gay scene is growing decidedly more 'hetero' in its style.

The piece reads well together with this article from Salon back in 2002, which more or less defines metrosexuality through its association with Beckham. (A word of caution - both articles are explicitly sexual. A word of caution for my less progressive readers -that's gay sex.)

The author of the latter article - again, written two years ago and so somewhat dated - appropriates the 'man-show' phenomenon of over-the-top chauvinism as an expression of metrosexuality. I'm not so sure. I think we're seeing two separate though related phenomena: on the one hand, a 'metrosexual' movement towards - shall we say - 'delicate' grooming, and on the other, a 'hetero' rediscovery of traditional masculanism. What's interesting, and what both these articles highlight, is that neither phenomenon is restricted to either homosexual or heterosexual men. I think that may hint at something very, very important about the nature of sexuality and, more specifically, the importance that has traditionally been placed on sexuality in the definition and understanding of homosexual and heterosexual differences. That is to say, homosexual and heterosexual men may share far more than simple mechanics, and their differences may not be so easily defined according to displays of sexuality.

Posted by David Mader at 04:01 PM | (3) | Back to Main


The Wall Street Journal weighs in, and points to a trail that leads right to the bowels of the White House. This is absolutely shameful stuff. I've long been a staunch supporter of this Administration on the Iraq portfolio, reconstruction as well as invasion. But if the Journal is right, the White House decided earlier this year to abandon its principle of democratic enlargement in order to appease critics and win the 'cooperation' of the United Nations. As with so many 'internationalist' projects of the past few decades, this one seems to have immediately become an obstacle to free government. As the Journal says, it's time to put up or shut up. Enough with the smears, enough with the retribution, enough with the unqualified, crusading 'judges.' We want Iraq to be democratic, right? Then how about we start acting like democrats ourselves.

[Via Adam Daifallah]

Posted by David Mader at 03:23 PM | (0) | Back to Main

August 10, 2004

Slow News Day in Australia?

Or, you know, pressing news of the moment?

Posted by David Mader at 08:43 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Swiftboats: Back and Forth

Your two best resources for the Swiftboat Ad debate are, for the vets, here, and for Kerry, here.

I haven't had a chance to read the second as closely as I have the first. It looks like both sides are splitting hairs when it suits their respective fancy. Still, even if there is "no way to resolve which of these versions of reality is closer to the truth," the Vets have done a service by highlighting possible inaccuracies in what has, to date, been the accepted narrative.

Posted by David Mader at 01:33 PM | (8) | Back to Main


I haven't said much about the Kerry-Cambodia brouhaha. If Kerry's been consciously lying about something he knows not to be true in order to advance a political agenda, that's something voters should take into account.

But I wonder whether his critics aren't setting themselves up for a fall. Having more or less disproven Kerry's assertion (made on the Senate floor) that he was in Cambodia on a secret mission at Christmas, 1968, some detractors seem to now be suggesting that Kerry was never in Cambodia at all, ever.

The Christmas statement was objectively disprovable, but unless critics have similar hard evidence that Kerry never entered Cambodia during his brief tour of duty in the Vietnam war, I'd caution them to be careful not to overplay their hand.

Posted by David Mader at 11:50 AM | (2) | Back to Main

That Famous French Culture - II


Vandals scrawled anti-Semitic graffiti on dozens of tombstones in Lyon overnight, authorities said Tuesday, the third time a Jewish cemetery has been desecrated this year.

Swastikas and inscriptions with Adolf Hitler's name were painted on headstones in de la Mouche cemetery in this southern French city, the same burial site that was desecrated by skinheads in 1992.

But don't worry: these Frenchmen are enlightened enough to share their ways with the rest of Europe:

In the Czech Republic, dozens of tombstones have been found toppled at a Jewish cemetery in the eastern of town Hranice, police said Tuesday.

Spokeswoman Michaela Sedlackova said that some 80 tombstones were overturned in the cemetery in the town 187 miles east of Prague. She said it was not clear when the incident happened. The cemetery dates to the 17th century.

Nothing to see here; please move along.

Posted by David Mader at 09:33 AM | (0) | Back to Main

August 09, 2004

Too Poor for Democracy

Zambia has postponed local elections, with a government minister saying that the money required would be better spend on roads and hospitals.

Assuming that the government is acting in good faith, this seems like a wonderful opportunity for those countries who profess an interest in the spread of democracy while refusing to achieve that end through military means. Canadians - and others - who are truly interested in the fostering of representative government should ask their own governments to assist Zambia in the administration of their local elections.

Posted by David Mader at 10:44 PM | (1) | Back to Main

Chalabi Hits Back

He blames the affair on the 'American advisers to the magistrate who ordered the arrests.'

Posted by David Mader at 10:21 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Mission Accomplished

Tommy Franks is taking a political bullet for President Bush. Franks says the 'Mission Accomplished' theme of Dubya's carrier visit last spring was his idea:

I wanted to get the phase of military operation over as quickly as I could, because a lot of countries on this planet had said as soon as that major stuff is over, we'll come in and help with all of the peacekeeping.

That's certainly plausible - I'm inclined to say likely - but the timing of Franks' statement gives it necessary partisan implications. It's too bad he didn't speak up at the time of his retirement.

Posted by David Mader at 10:10 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Nothing to See Here

Speaking of genocide:

The EU said yesterday there was widespread violence in the Darfur region of Sudan but the killings were not genocidal, a potentially crucial distinction which underlined its reluctance to intervene.
"We are not in the situation of genocide there," Pieter Feith, an adviser to the EU's foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, said in Brussels after returning from a fact-finding visit to Sudan.

No, no, no, there's nothing bad going on in the Sudan; all those people are simply being resettled in the east.

Posted by David Mader at 10:04 PM | (1) | Back to Main

That Famous French Culture


While on a tour of the museum at the Auschwitz death camp in Poland on Sunday, a group of around 50 Jewish university students from Israel, the U.S. and Poland were verbally attacked by a three-member gang of French male tourists.

Evidently incited by the presence of an Israeli flag wrapped around the shoulders of Tamar Schuri, an Israeli student from Ben Gurion University, the first assailant ran at the group while its members were being guided through a model gas chamber and crematoria and began swearing and hurling anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli insults.

Said Yigael Ben-Natan: "I suppose some people don't come to mourn; some people come for completely different reason, which we cannot completely comprehend." Apparently.

Posted by David Mader at 09:38 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Money, Mouth, Etc.

This is good news. Reporters strut around acting like they have some God-given - or Constitutional - right to protect the anonymity of their sources. It's nice to see a legal decision which establishes that such protection enjoys no legal status. It's a promise of the reporter to the source, and nothing more. If a reporter feels that his own word is more important than, say, a criminal investigation, he has every right to remain silent. But the state has a right to punish him for obstructing justice.

The press often talks about their own noble profession and the importance of confidentiality. Now Matt Cooper and Tim Russert have a wonderful opportunity to show what they're made of. They can assist in a criminal investigation. Or they can go to jail. Either one works for me.

[Via the big guy, who I seem to be mirror-blogging. Hey, it's better than no blogging at all.]

Posted by David Mader at 05:27 PM | (1) | Back to Main

The Politics of Elections

Stern forwards me this story from Saskatchewan, where the NDP are challenging the federal election results in two ridings:

A judge has ruled there is sufficient evidence in the NDP's affidavit to warrant an examination of election documents.

The New Democrats are appealing the election results in the Regina-Lumsden-Lake Centre and Palliser ridings. They claim Elections Canada advised hundreds of people to vote in the wrong riding. The NDP lost the Palliser seat by 124 votes.

This sort of thing always makes me a little uncomfortable. Instances of a miscount and recount are one thing; when a certain number of marked ballots exist and the only argument is over the proper tabulation of the said marks, recounts can (theoretically) reach a 'true' result.

But in this case the supposed 'true' result is entirely abstract. If the NDP is correct and many voters did indeed cast ballots in the wrong riding, how can this be corrected? It's impossible to transfer an anonymous ballot to another riding and retabulate the results. It's just as impossible to discount the 'miscast' ballots, even if this could be achieved without disfranchising the voters in question. Furthermore, either of these scenarios would benefit the NDP only under the assumption that the error fell in the Conservatives' favor. But again, given the anonymity of the ballots, it's just as possible that a correct vote would have led to a greater Conservative margin of victory.

So if ballots were indeed miscast, the only 'acceptable' outcome would be a nullification of the results in two federal ridings and a byelection in each. I'm not sure this is entirely acceptable or desirable either. An election at this point could not be a replacement for an election held in tandem with the rest of the country, as voters will necessarily be motivated by election-night results. Furthermore, a by-election campaign will involve party expenditures affected, I believe, by the campaign-finance consequences of the federal election. In other words, a nullification of the results would lead to a wholly new election in each of the ridings because of an error made not by voters or parties but by Elections Canada.

And how grave was the error? According to the NDP, "Elections Canada advised hundreds of people to vote in the wrong riding." Which means that hundreds of people, thinking they were voting in the correct riding, studied the candidates (or not) and cast their ballots accordingly. It's not like a voter who intended to support Conservative candidate X instead had his vote go towards Conservative candidate Y. Each of the affected voters believed he was casting his ballot properly. The only consequence of the error, in a non-partisan sense, is that one riding has a slightly larger population than usual, another slightly smaller.

That error will be corrected at the next general election. And I think that's the best we can hope for in this investigation. It's important to make sure that errors like these are not repeated. Throwing out election results, however, seems to me to be a degree of meddling in democratic affairs that we should do our best to avoid.

Posted by David Mader at 12:45 PM | (0) | Back to Main

JudgeBots Are Go!

If this is an instance of the euphamistically-named Planned Parenthood lampooning themselves, then kudos to them. But, as the Good Professor implies, I have a feeling they take it a tad more seriously than perhaps they should.

Posted by David Mader at 09:54 AM | (2) | Back to Main

This Stinks

Warrants have been issued for the arrest of Ahmed Chalabi and his nephew, Salem.

Now I'm no Chalabi partisan; I think it's entirely possible that he pursued his own agenda through his association with the Pentagon prior to the invasion of Iraq. (That his agenda involved, primarily, the removal of a tyrant is a fact worth remembering.) But it's an unspoken truth of the Iraqi reconstruction that Chalabi is and has long been in the CIA's doghouse. This latest attempt to discredit him by accusing him of money-laundering seems as unlikely to be true as the earlier allegations about pro-Iranian espionage, but the truth doesn't matter. This is all politics, and the political ramifications of these repeated allegations will compound.

In the wake of the 9/11 Commission's report, it's urgently obvious that the United States needs an intelligence community dedicated to advancing America's security through bare-bones intelligence and counter-intelligence work. Instead we're seeing the CIA once again get wrapped up in third-world politics, serving no-one's interest but the Agency's. The White House has too much at stake in Iraq to let the CIA turn it into yet another petty kleptocracy the likes of which brought America's intelligence community so much bad press in the 1980s. But if that's not to happen, the Bush administration - or its successor - will have to fight an uphill battle against those responsible for shamefull stunts like the Chalabi take-down.

Posted by David Mader at 09:12 AM | (3) | Back to Main

August 06, 2004


The AP has a very interesting piece outlining some of the ramifications of the arrest of Mohammed Naeem Noor Khan on July 13 - an arrest I mentioned here and which appears to have lead to the warnings surrouding Wall Street and other financial institutions in the North-East last week. The story notes that Khan's arrest itself was a consequence of earlier counter-intelligence activity.

We're often inclined to give security services and controlling authorities a hard time because of this or that imperfect policy. We should remember that our security services, and those of our allies, are doing a tremendous job keeping us safe - in a world that is very, very dangerous.

Posted by David Mader at 05:14 PM | (0) | Back to Main


I hope we can all laugh at this.

Posted by David Mader at 01:14 PM | (2) | Back to Main

August 05, 2004

The Conservative Mindset

Peggy Noonan:

Everyone who reads me knows I am a political conservative, by which I mean I adhere to a particular philosophy, a way of viewing life and man and his time on earth... [Conservatives] have a natural respect and even sometimes love toward human beings, while at the same time having no illusions--none--about who we are. Man is not perfect and is not perfectible, at least by other men. We are what we are; God made us and gave us freedom; we use it to ill and good; man best operates through certain arrangements and traditions, and those arrangements and traditions are best animated by respect for the individual and love of liberty.

Could anyone have said it better? Some Republicans - 'lower down on the pole' - are going to benefit mightily from Noonan's pen this election.

Posted by David Mader at 11:18 AM | (1) | Back to Main


John Kerry has been talking about his Vietnam service for months, trumpeting his four-month tour as proof of his ability to lead a nation in war. Now some of his former comrades are publicly challenging his record.

I wonder how widely this ad is being aired. Given Kerry's Vietnam-themed campaign, it was more or less inevitable.

Posted by David Mader at 09:16 AM | (1) | Back to Main

August 04, 2004

A Dangerous Precedent

Via Drudge, this story:

Central Florida woman was fired from her job after eating "unclean" meat and violating a reported company policy that pork and pork products are not permissible on company premises, according to Local 6 News.

Lina Morales was hired as an administrative assistant at Rising Star -- a Central Florida telecommunications company with strong Muslim ties, Local 6 News reported.

If this case were decided straight up-and-down in the plaintiff's favor, it would set a disturbing precedent: how could one hope to run, say, a kosher restaurant if one could not prevent employees from observing religious dietary laws on the premises?

There are, however, two mitigating or complicating factors in the complainant's favor. First, the policy was apparently not made explicit in writing - although it seems to have been made explicit in direct oral communication. Second, dietary laws are not intrinsic to the nature of the business conducted on the premises, so such a restriction may not be deemed reasonable.

Nonetheless, it's not clear to me that an employer should not be able to impose certain restrictions on employee behaviour - including dress, language and even diet - regardless of the motivation, provided such restrictions are clearly stated at the time of hiring.

And the counsel's suggestion that religious dietary restrictions are 'un-American' comes awfylly close to religiously-motivated bigotry itself.

Posted by David Mader at 03:31 PM | (4) | Back to Main

Dropping the Ball

While the mainstream media bleats about the revelation that last weekend's terror alerts were based in part on years-old information - implying, as Howard Dean suggested, that the warnings were 'politically motivated' - they've entirely missed the significance of the arrest that led to the discovery of that information.

Meanwhile, as British authorities arrest or detain two dozen men on suspicion of being engaged in terrorist activity, that nation's parliamentarians show that they are not immune from similar irresponsible stupidity:

Parliament's Joint Committee on Human Rights supported that complaint, and called for changes in the emergency laws enacted soon after the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States.

"There is mounting evidence that the powers under the Terrorism Act are being used disproportionately against members of the Muslim community in the U.K.," the committee reported.

No kidding. But proportional to what? To the ratio of Muslims among the British population? Or to the ratio of terrorists and terrorist-supporters among the population of British Muslims?

Posted by David Mader at 10:15 AM | (2) | Back to Main

August 01, 2004

What the Thunderbirds Remake Should Have Been

It should have been this.

Posted by David Mader at 01:46 PM | (1) | Back to Main