Dispatches > The Buzz


Issue: "Lord of the Rings," Dec. 20, 2003

Howard's end; Kerry's end game

Many in the blogosphere state that Howard Dean is on his way to the Democratic nomination. Here's what Joshua Micah Marshall (talkingpoints memo.com), who has built his reputation upon being a man with sources, says: "I had lunch today with someone who is not a politician but a fairly prominent Washington Democrat-certainly not someone from the party's liberal wing. And in the course of answering a question, I said 'If it [i.e., the nominee] ends up being Dean ...' At which point, with the rest of my sentence still on deck down in my throat, my friend shot back : 'It's Dean.' It was effortless. He wasn't happy or sad about it. He wasn't trying to convince me-more like letting me in on something I apparently wasn't aware of yet."

With new polls showing John Kerry trailing by 30 points in New Hampshire, Mickey Kaus (kaus files.com) is hoping he'll ease out of the race: "Democratic Senator John Kerry, once proclaimed the frontrunner in the press, faces not just defeat but utter humiliation in the New Hampshire primary.... Shouldn't he save his pride (and possible national political future, if only as a VP candidate) by withdrawing from the race before this harsh popular verdict is rendered?" To this end, Mr. Kaus is sponsoring a contest and offering a prize related to another early frontrunner from 20 years ago: "A copy of John Glenn: A Memoir to the reader who submits the best cover excuse that will let Sen. Kerry drop out of the presidential race before the voting actually starts while preserving his viability within the system."

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Continental bigots

Moving beyond politics, many bloggers have commented on the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe. Jeff Jarvis (buzzmachine.com) argues that if he were a European "truly concerned about its evil ghost of anti-Semitism rising again, I would do something. If I heard that children are being told to hide their yarmulkes for fear of attacks, I'd go out and get myself a yarmulke and wear it proudly. If I were Jacques Chirac, I'd go get a yarmulke and wear it. I'd urge all Frenchmen to wear a yarmulke. But then, I'm not European."

We're also not moonwalkers, according to Gregg Easterbrook (tnr.com/easterbrookmhtml). Not succumbing to the thrills of exploration when the White House conjectured about more manned missions to the moon, he yanked out his calculator, figured the cost of a moon base at around $200 billion, and asked, "What would astronauts do from a Moon base? Suit up and go outside. Collect rocks and check measuring devices. Go back inside.... NASA doesn't need a grand ambition, it needs a cheap, reliable means of getting back and forth to low-Earth orbit.... Cancel the shuttle, mothball the does-nothing space station, and use all the budget money the two would have consumed to develop an affordable means of space flight. Then we can talk about the Moon and Mars."

'Gay-ness is a fashion'

World's blog (worldmagblog.com) quotes press coverage in Africa of the Episcopal debate concerning what the Daily Times of Nigeria called "the abominable ordination of gay bishop Robinson." It notes these words from a Ugandan archbishop: "The West introduced us to the faith but it seems they have run out of ideas on which way to go. They are confused about the Bible and want to destroy the church." Here's a strong comment from the Ghanaian Chronicle concerning "the countries of the white-man": "Their moral development is seen tilting backwards toward our animal self instead of the moral of our maker. For them, Gay-ness is a fashion."

Worldmagblog concludes that "African strict constructionism regarding the Bible is an enormously positive development, but it frustrates Western leftists who once extolled African wisdom. Just as Americans revolted against Britain but ended up saving the former masters during World War II, so Africans who demanded independence from Britain may now be saving the Anglican church."


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