Archive for November, 2005

Hillary Positions Herself

Posted on November 30th, 2005 in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

As predicted yesterday, Hillary Clinton took a new stance on the Iraq war, um, yesterday. She’s calling for troop pull-outs from Iraq starting in 2006, depending on the outcome of Iraqi elections on December 15th.

The Times, showing that it still doesn’t know how to use the Internet for online journalism, doesn’t bother to link to Clinton’s statement, so I will. It’s here.

Here’s Hillary’s nut graf:

I do not believe that we should allow this to be an open-ended commitment without limits or end. Nor do I believe that we can or should pull out of Iraq immediately. I believe we are at a critical point with the December 15th elections that should, if successful, allow us to start bringing home our troops in the coming year, while leaving behind a smaller contingent in safer areas with greater intelligence and quick strike capabilities. This will advance our interests, help fight terrorism and protect the interests of the Iraqi people.

But to my mind, there’s a crucial step missing. What exactly are the elections going to change that makes it plausible for us to start withdrawing troops? Will they somehow make the U.S.-trained Iraqi army more viable? Seems unlikely.

Mrs. Clinton spends the vast majority of her letter Bush-bashing. But near the end, she does return to her own prescription.

If these elections succeed, we should be able to start drawing down our troops, but we should also plan to continue to help secure the country and the region with a smaller footprint on an as-needed basis. I call on the President…for such a plan….

Two points: What is success? And why call on the president for a plan? Why not come up with your own?

Sooner or later, Senator Clinton will have to, if she expects to lead the country.

Ignatieff for Parliament

Posted on November 30th, 2005 in Uncategorized | No Comments »

Harvard professor Michael Ignatieff, who is Canadian, has announced that he’s going to run for the Canadian Parliament as a member of the Liberal Party. I’d vote for him. The head of the Kennedy School’s Carr Center for Human Rights, Ignatieff’s a thoughtful, serious and passionate guy. (I interviewed him for Harvard Rules, and he spoke on the record, a quality I always admire and encourage in a future politician.) He’s intensely devoted to the cause of human rights, and has spent years trying to make the world a better place. Good for Michael to take this leap, and good luck to him. He’s an example of Harvard and the Kennedy School at their best.

Boston Magazine Giveth

Posted on November 29th, 2005 in Uncategorized | No Comments »

Readers of this blog can now read “The Great Harvard Drug Scandal” online here. But buy the magazine anyway, okay? Those guys work hard for the money.

The Great Harvard Drug Scandal

Posted on November 29th, 2005 in Uncategorized | No Comments »

That’s the title of John Wolfson’s piece in Boston Magazine, which I just received in the mail. The powerful story tells of Larry Summer’s attempt to seize control of a $125 million grant to fight AIDS in Africa received by Phyllis Kanki, a researcher at the School of Public Health.

Here’s the nut graf:

“That set up a struggle that stretched over the first half of 2004, delaying crucial AIDS work for five months. Though this battle would get far less publicity than other Summers skirmishes—the odd fight he picked with the Afro-American studies profesor Cornel West, for example, or the contrvoersy he ignited with comments suggesting that genetics might explain the paucity of women in science—its ramifications would be infinitely more severe. The casualties would not be limited to the ego of a star academic or the march of social progress. The unversity denies it adamantly, but well-informed critics say the victims this time would be hundreds of impoverished, AIDS-stricken Africans who died waiting for Harvard to deliver the life-extending treatment it had been given public money to provide.” (Emphasis added.)

The mind reels.

As it does from the rationale provided by Harvard spokesman B.D. Colen, which—well, you’ll just have to read it for yourself. Let’s just say that Colen’s response is cynical, cavalier, and, frankly, cruel. (Or, if you’re feeling gentle, it’s just deeply ignorant.) It’s on page 116 of Wolfson’s story.

But really, you should read the entire article. Unfortunately, it’s not (yet?) online, so you might have to buy the magazine. It’s worth the $4.

Nora Ephron: She’s No Dummy

Posted on November 29th, 2005 in Uncategorized | No Comments »

On the Huffington Post, Nora Ephron has a wickedly smart analysis of Bob Woodward, whom she calls the “dumb blonde of Washington.”

Most of her post isn’t so nasty, but it is, in its way, quite devastating.

(And not just because she agrees with me that the reason Woodward trashed Patrick Fitzgerald in public was to pressure Fitzgerald into cooperating with him.)

You know, if I were a newspaper editor—or, say, editor of a national magazine devoted to cuture and politics—I might just think about signing up Nora Ephron as a columnist. She covers the same turf as Maureen Dowd, and to my mind, she’s a better writer….

How Quickly the Over-Hyped Fall

Posted on November 29th, 2005 in Uncategorized | 5 Comments »

Mediaweek reports that Anderson Cooper’s ratings are down 19% from Aaron Brown’s last week on-air.

What I find truly remarkable is that the show’s only averaging about 568,000 viewers. By TV standards, you can’t get much smaller. I’ll bet the Robyn Bird Show doesn’t do much worse (and I don’t even know what channel it’s on any more).

I understand that in promoting Cooper ad nauseum, CNN is just trying to figure out how to stop the bleeding. I’ve got an idea. Journalism? I’d like to see CNN focus more on the news and stories it’s reporting, rather than the people who are doing the reporting….

Is the Pope a Bigot?

Posted on November 29th, 2005 in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

In Slate, my friend Will Saletan outlines Joseph Ratzinger’s 30-year campaign against gays. The gist of Will’s piece is that Ratzinger has long been obsessed with purging homosexuality from, not just the church, but society at large.

I’m not Catholic (though half of my extended family is)…but if I were, I’d be struggling with the idea that the man elevated to my church’s highest position appears to be a bigot.

The Democrats and Iraq

Posted on November 29th, 2005 in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

While driving yesterday, I heard The Atlantic’s James Fallows discuss his cover story, “Why Iraq Has No Army.” I always find Fallows smart, thoughtful, and politically hard to pin down, which I mean as a compliment. His piece is really a must-read for Democrats and others who oppose the war—and it poses a dilemma for Democratic aspirants to the presidency.

It’s a good thing that the Democrats are finally showing signs of life. But ultimately, Hillary Clinton et al are going to have to do more than say that the was has been botched, or that it was a mistake from the get-go. (Tough for Hillary to say, since she voted in favor of it.) Regardless of whether the war was a mistake, it happened, and it’s happening. Democrats are going to have to say what they would do now.

And that seems an impossible question. As Fallows writes: “The crucial need to improve security and order in Iraq puts the United States in an impossible position. It can’t honorably leave Iraq—as opposed to simply evacuating Saigon-style—so long as its military must provide most of the manpower, weaponry, intelligence systems, and strategies being used against the insurgency. But it can’t sensibly stay when the very presence of its troops is a worsening irritant to the Iraqi public and a rallying point for nationalist opponents—to say nothing of the growing pressure in the United States for withdrawal.”

It’s a terrific article.

The Wirth Letter

Posted on November 28th, 2005 in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

Here’s the letter former U.S. senator Timothy Wirth wrote to Corporation senior fellow Jamie Houghton…. Click on the letter to enlarge it.

John Silber: Summers Shouldn’t Apologize

Posted on November 28th, 2005 in Uncategorized | No Comments »

In the same issue of Boston magazine, John Sedgwick conducts a fascinating interview with former Boston University president John Silber.

As usual with Silber, some of his remarks sound extremely sensible, and some of them sound borderline nutty.

Silber’s bottom line: “Summers has done nothing to be ashamed of, and that’s why he shouldn’t apologize. Once he apologizes, then you wonder whether he’s done something naughty.”