THE BLOG
07/24/2006 09:09 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

I'll Take Dirty Players for 300, Alex

Altercation

Jeopardy question:

The guy is a graduate student at one of America's most prestigious business schools.

The guy is the leader of his class basketball team.

The game was tight.  The other team's captain, Gary Engle...went up for a  shot.  The guy slugged him -- an elbow to the mouth, knocking him to the parquet.  "What the hell are you doing?" Engle remembers saying.  "What, you want to get into a fistfight and both of us end up in the fu**ing emergency room?"  The guy just smiled.

Moments later, at the other end of the court, Engle went up high for a rebound and felt someone chop his legs out from under him.  The guy again.  Engle jumped up and threw the ball in the guy's face.  The two went at it until two teams of future business leaders leapt on their captains, pulling them apart.  Engle, angry and vexed by what had happened, began wondering why the hell the guy would have done what he did.  He lost his composure, and his team lost its leader.

A few years later, Engle...bumped into his brother, a governor....Engle, a Republican contributor, had thought from time to time about his game against the guy.  Nothing like that had happened to him before or since.  This was his chance to get a little insight about it.  He told the story.  The governor kind of laughed, Engle recalled.  "In Texas, they call guys like the guy 'hard case.'  It wasn't easy being his brother, either.  He truly enjoys getting people to knuckle under."

Who is the President of the United States?

Why are we losing the war?  Well, there are more reasons than we can count, but here is one and here is another and here too is yet another.

Gilbert Cranberg says the D.C. bureau and Landay, Strobel, Walcott deserve high honors for their reports challenging the Bush administration during the build-up to the invasion of Iraq, here, I second that emotion.

What a wimpy headline for a story about the fact that The American Bar Association said Sunday that President Bush was flouting the Constitution and undermining the rule of law by claiming the power to disregard selected provisions of bills that he signed.  Here.

Slate's editor, Jacob Weisberg, took an AIPAC sponsored junket with a group of other journalists to listen to Israeli propaganda about their invasion of Lebanon.  He disclosed this fact in this defense of George Bush.  I wonder, can't the Washington Post company, owner of Slate, afford to pay for its own reporting trips?  And who else is getting their "news" from AIPAC without disclosing it?  Would they also accept a Hezbollah-sponsored trip?  Doesn't this kind of demonstrate the Walt/Mearsheimer argument?

(And by the way, on this "Arafat rejected Camp David" argument.  It's true, but after doing so, he got a better deal at Taba shortly thereafter.  So it made sense for him to reject Camp David, since in doing so, he improved his position.  Of course the Israel government couldn't deliver the deal at Taba, so it turned out to be a mistake.  And it's far from clear that Arafat would have implemented it if they could have.  But still, it's hardly so clear as everyone makes out that the problem was Camp David.  It wasn't and it existed on both sides.)

Meanwhile, I lack the energy to explain everything I find both right and wrong in this challenging and maddening column by Kurt Andersen about what we talk about when we talk about Israel.  And here's Remnick on same.

Some background on Hezbollah, here and here.

Ha'arretz columnist Gideon Levy:  "Israel can gain nothing more from this war than a bloody reputation.  It is the right time to stop," here.

Quote of the Day, I:  "The U.S. occupation is butcher's work under the slogan of democracy and human rights and justice." --Speaker of the Iraqi Parliament, Mahmoud al-Mashhadani.

Quote of the Day II:  "Joe Lieberman is, without question, one of the finest men I've known in public life.  I could never imagine myself voting against him."  --Time's most liberal columnist, Joe Klein.  (P.S.  Don't go away mad, Joe.)

Quote of the Day, III:  "If you had a European prime minister who experienced what we've experienced it would be expected that he would retire or resign," --William F. Buckley, Jr.  Why does William F. Buckley, Jr. hate America?

Quote of the Day, IV:  "We look for guidance these days to two other notable squishes, George Bush and Condoleezza Rice."  --David Brooks  (If you can make sense of just what the hell policy Brooks is implying here, and what hopes for success it may have, you're a smarter (wo)man than I am.)

Quote of the Day V:  "Why would a progressive European government want to have anything to do with the one-sided diplomacy of a fading president, driven by extreme theology?"  Good question, here.

An anonymous "senior Justice Department official" (quoted in the New York Times) offered the following explanation of a personal decision by George Bush to block a Justice Department investigation into the NSA eavesdropping case: "We had to draw the line somewhere."  The only inaccuracy in the line was that splendidly placed "somewhere."  As on every other issue of legal, ethical, or constitutional import, this administration never draws the line "somewhere"; it always draws its line at the same place -- the place, to be exact, which gives the commander-in-chief presidency that is this administration's heart and soul the most possible power and denies power most outrageously to any other branch of, or agency of, government (except, of course, the Pentagon).

Recently, though, one of those branches refused to accept the administration's "somewhere" in the sand and instead drew some rather striking lines of its own.  Law professor David Cole offers a canny, original, and vivid assessment in the New York Review of Books and at Tomdispatch.com of how and why the Supreme Court drew those lines in the recent Hamdan decision, challenging an administration that, until recently, brooked no challenge.

He concludes:  "The Bush doctrine views the rule of law as our enemy, and claims it is allied with terrorism. As the Pentagon's 2005 National Defense Strategy put it: 'Our strength as a nation state will continue to be challenged by those who employ a strategy of the weak using international fora, judicial processes, and terrorism.'  In fact, both the strength and security of the nation in the struggle with terrorists rest on adherence to the rule of law, including international law, because only such adherence provides the legitimacy we need if we are to win back the world's respect.  Hamdan suggests that at least one branch of the United States government understands this."

Frances Fitzgerald on the fight in Ohio, here.

Why Republicans love the Voting Rights Act (and why it's bad for the rest of us)

Shaw over Shakespeare; Michael Holroyd and I agree.

Against Free Speech here.

Charles Darwin and the value of friendship, here.

Sucking up to evil, here.

Another academic--sort of--review of When Presidents Lie from Logos, here.  The H-Diplo symposium, if you missed it, is here.