Friday, May 30, 2003

Blog Banter - Andrew Sullivan has posted some interesting comments on what I think of as the myth of closet heterosexuality. We heterosexuals wear our sexuality on our sleeves publicly every day. Because of this, it is troubling to me whenever someone proclaims that gay men and women should keep what they do in their bedrooms to themselves. First, I have never known any openly gay person to say anything about his "bedroom" activity in public. Is an open, public admission of one's homosexuality the equivalent of bringing one's "bedroom" activity into the public domain? I say no more than the person who is "open" about heterosexuality through the mention of an opposite sex partner. When I speak to my friends and colleagues about my wife, they no doubt "assume" the details about my bedroom life, especially since we have children who clearly resemble both of us. Who knows? Maybe some of them even imagine or fantasize about such unspoken details. Yet, we accept this implicit recognition of "bedroom" activity for heterosexuals without question. So, for those who tell homosexuals to keep their sex lives to themselves, I say you are hypocritical and submit to you that homosexuals do keep their sex lives to themselves. Much more so than heterosexuals, actually, when you think about it. Why can husbands mention wives (and vice versa) without people complaining of bringing "bedroom" activity into the public domain, but gay men and women cannot even mention their companions as such without some homophobe saying "be gay if you want, but keep it to yourself."

Andrew makes the even more important point that it's not even about sex. It's about all the other things that enrich a relationship and make people happy as human beings. I'm with Andrew all the way on this issue.

Lagniappe - Hugh Dellios and E.A. Torriero, of the Chicago Tribune, present the most detailed report on the Jessica Lynch rescue that I have read to date. It paints quite a different picture of what actually took place than what we were initially fed by the media as well as the official U.S. government/military information sources. I can't say that any of the initial story was intentionally fabricated, because I can easily understand how details and perceptions in an uncertain and tense environment can get exaggerated and distorted and how the story could have morphed into a bit of mythology in the transmission of it from one source to the next. My feeling is that there was an over-eager News Media craving the mythical hero story, and willing to report it as such; but I also think that there was some unsubstantiated and careless story-telling by the soldiers and their command leadership. Is this acceptable given the circumstances of the moment? I think so. But what's not tolerable is to hold on to an obviously exaggerated and misleading representation of the reality when the dust settles and better, more clear-sighted information about the actual event becomes known.

Thursday, May 29, 2003

The Weak in (National) Review - Jay Nordlinger's most recent Impromptus touch on the issue of race in the Jayson Blair scandal at the New York Times. And it offers a revealing, if unintentional, glimpse into Nordlinger's own color-tinged world view. Before going any further, I want to be very clear that I do not in the least think that Nordlinger is racist. Quite the contrary, his earnestness in promoting a color-blind world is very honest, sincere, and real; but, like Howell Raines and all of us other white supporters of Affirmative Action who are painfully conscious of the need to address the awful legacy of racial discrimination, Nordlinger cannot escape the fact that his world view IS shaped by race - as much as he'd like to think and hope that it is not. The sad thing is that Nordlinger doesn't see this in himself. And this is clear in his column. For instance, as he deals with the issue of race in the Jayson Blair affair, Nordlinger writes:

[T]he idea that the Blair case had nothing to do with race and affirmative action is nutty. I wish it were otherwise. If it weren't for affirmative action, it would be just another personal tragedy, or a crisis for a newspaper. Instead, it is a national tragedy. This is what affirmative action does. No one should blame people like me for pointing it out. Race preferences are a poison that infiltrates the workplace, the college campus — America itself. Remove this poison, agree to equality of opportunity, decide to judge people on qualities other than skin color, and we can all be something more like human beings, instead of pawns in a racial game.
A few sentences into the very next paragraph, Nordlinger continues with this theme:
Obviously, the affirmative-action issue arouses a lot of hurt. But the blame should be placed on affirmative-action policies themselves, not on those (of us) impolite enough to bring them up. And who knows? If we had more discussion of affirmative action and its consequences — for blacks and whites alike — we might all be better off, even if there is great discomfort in the short run.
Clearly, Nordlinger is troubled by the fact that skin color does matter; and he wishes it weren't so. Nordlinger pines for a society in which judgments of people are made "on qualities other than skin color." But the very next paragraph in his column shows precisely how impossible it is to avoid "judgments" based on skin color. He writes:
Look, I feel tremendous sympathy for black journalists. I wish Blair had been white (and for that matter, I wish Willie Horton — the murderer, not the ballplayer — had been white; it was a good and defensible issue). No one should have to live with the burden of race; we should be free to live as individuals.
It's very subtle, but Nordlinger's "sympathy for black journalists" - no matter how you slice it and dice it - plays directly into the race issue. My question to Nordlinger is what does this "sympathy" lead him to do, how does it condition or change his own behavior? Does Nordlinger just shrug this sentiment off? I don't see how he can "suffer with" black journalists - precisely because they are black - and just "leave dumb ol' pigmentation behind."

Nordlinger's single-minded opposition to affirmative action has really blinded him to the fact that racial difference exists and that this difference has meaning. The issue is how we grapple with this difference and the meanings attributed to it. It seems to me that Affirmative Action embraces the reality of this difference and attempts to deal with what this difference has meant. Nordlinger's antipathy to Affirmative Action is tinged with a color-blindness that seems, essentially, to reject the reality of this difference and its meaning.

Nordlinger is not a racist, but he is white - and this means something. One of the things it means is that he is on the giving end of sympathy to black journalists. And he can't escape the fact that only white (or perhaps better-said "non-black") journalists can occupy this position. His skin color matters, and his very own comments emphasize this point.

Tuesday, May 27, 2003

The Weak in (National) Review - The stuffy William F. Buckley Jr. goes on record defending the call of Christian evangelicals to "meet the problem [of Muslim militancy] head on." Buckley defends his position by writing:

[T]he Christian face of the ongoing struggle simply has to show itself, and its strengths are great. The doctrine of human love and responsibility for others should not be thought of as intrinsically offensive to a Muslim, and sincerity in preaching the doctrines of Christ has naturally to follow from advocacy of the lessons of the New Testament.
Fine and good. But Buckley misses the point that the purpose of evangelical Christian missionary activity is not just to advocate the "doctrine of human love and responsibility for others" but to demonize other faiths and to demand conversion, or else face the eternal fires of hell. Buckley is either a fool or simply naive to think evangelical Christianity separates the two; and it is the latter mission that is "intrinsically offensive" to a Muslim. Quite frankly, I find this essentially intolerant evangelical mission as neither an example of the "doctrine of human love" nor a behavior that embraces a "responsibility for others."

Saturday, May 24, 2003

Lagniappe - Just a thought on Annika Sorenstam's participation in the Colonial... In my mind it's perfectly acceptable for a woman to have the right to play in a "man's" golf league, but to exclude men from participating in the corresponding "woman's" golf league. Why? Because a woman golfer will by no means participate with an "undue" advantage in the man's league, whereas the opposite will most certainly be true. Sorenstam, by far the best female golfer in the world today, is ratcheting up, and there's no harm nor threat to any man in her doing this. Tiger Woods playing in the LPGA would be ratcheting down just to take advantage, and this would be wrong. I mean, high school wrestlers can compete in higher weight brackets if they so choose, but not in lower. Bright students can skip grades upwards if their intellect warrants it, but never can they regress to lower grades just so they can win the less demanding spelling bees with their more extensive vocabularies. You get the drift. Read this for a similar take on Sorenstam's right to play in the Colonial.

Liberal Lighthouse - Peter Bienart nails the Bush Administration on its duplicity and its abuse of power. After outlining serious and blatant falsehoods and power abuses over the past 8 months alone supported by the Bush Administration, Beinart ends with this observation:

These stories of Bush administration dishonesty and abuse have not been denied in the conservative press as much as they have been ignored. In researching this column, I could not find a single substantive defense of Bush's UAV claim, or his filibuster plan, or his uranium allegation, in any elite conservative publication. Fred Barnes last week defended the Texas redistricting plan in The Weekly Standard but, incredibly, never acknowledged the key issue: that states traditionally limit themselves to one redistricting per decade. For conservatives, it seems, this administration's decency and honesty are ideological axioms that require no empirical defense. President Bush is not President Clinton. That's all they need to know.
If the Democrats stay on this message, there is hope for the party in the 2004 elections.

Kingfishery and Kingcakery - "The psychics didn't see it coming. The painters thought it was a thing of beauty." Funny little article on the struggle for sidewalk space on Jackson Square in the French Quarter.

Cuaderno Latinoamericano - Interesting piece in the Washington Post on dissatisfaction among Cuban policy hardliners with the Bush Administration. Will this negatively affect Bush's chances in Florida in '04? Will Bush pull some election year stunts to capture this constituency that proved so decisive to him in the last election? Where is the voice of NRO's Jay Nordlinger on the Bush Administration's Cuba policy?

Cuaderno Latinoamericano - Andres Oppenheimer evaluates Brazil's push not only for regional supremacy within the region, but also for a rejection of the notion of a regional "Latin America" in favor of an even further sub-regionalization. Interesting concept, though it is not unprecedented and probably won't really amount to anything substantive. The ties that bind are much too deep. In other news, can it be true that Venezuelan democracy will triumph? Chavez and the opposition have apparently agreed to a referendum based on constitutional process. That this agreement would come without any catches is hard for me to believe; but maybe -- just maybe -- Venezuela's touted (but stressed) political culture of democracy will win the day. Should the referendum take place, the true test will be whether or not the loser will accept it as legitimate. In the end, a peaceful and constitutional resolution of this crisis agreeable to all parties involved would be a major success for Venezuela. And it seems that the country is headed in this direction.

Lagniappe - It appears that Texas Republicans are getting deeper and deeper into a scandal involving the use of a federal agency to do their partisan bidding - primarily by providing misleading information. Credit where credit is due: this report comes courtesy of Rod Dreher who has been critically assessing and following the affair on National Review Online's blog, "The Corner." It would be worthwhile for cocky GOPers to read Andrew Sullivan's cautionary piece, Hubris Ascendant.

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

Lagniappe - DPS-Gate widens. Texas Republicans, molded by ex-Texas Governor and current President Bush, are bringing shame and scandal on the GOP. I wonder if this scandal will "trickle-up" to the White House in any way?

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Blog Banter - Mickey Kaus, in his blog dated May 19, 2003, claims that welfare reform's success lies in the fact that "life is getting better in America's 'underclass' ghettos." His argument rests on a Robert Pear article which refers to researcher Paul Jargowsky's finding that "Concentrated poverty — the share of the poor living in high-poverty neighborhoods — declined among all racial and ethnic groups, especially African-Americans." Kaus claims that Pear's explanation of the reasons for Jargowsky's findings is the result PRIMARILY of the 1996 Welfare Reform Act. Kaus writes:

Pear rightly credits welfare reform, in part, with this success. The reasons seem obvious: welfare reform produced a dramatic jump in the participation of single mothers in the labor force. When you work, you not only get richer--you also tend to get out of your neighborhood and discover the rest of your city. Working also breaks down stereotypes of lower income, single mothers--especially African-American single mothers-that may underlie resistance in non-poor areas to having such people as neighbors. Not to mention the gauzier benefits of working, like "role-modeling" and the effect of the disciplined rhythm of work on home life and school performance.
Though Kaus hedges with his "in part" qualifier, the centrality of welfare reform to his own argument is indisputable. But the fact is that Pear himself never credits welfare reform as the cause of the decline in concentrated poverty. The only reference in the report to welfare reform as a partial explanation for the deconcentration of poverty comes from Bruce Katz, director of the Center on Urban and Metropolitan Policy at the Brookings Institution, whom Pear quotes as saying, "The decline in concentrated poverty represents, in part, the triumph of smart federal policies that demolished failed public housing, rewarded work and overhauled welfare." In fact, Pear's article really seems to be saying that the primary reason for the deconcentration of poverty is NOT welfare reform, but rather the razing of public housing projects and the population dispersions that came with this. In fact, Pear starts his article by writing:
Poverty in the United States became far less concentrated in the 1990's as public housing projects were torn down and millions of poor people left urban slums for other neighborhoods, a new study of Census Bureau data says.
As someone who has paid close attention to this process in my home town of New Orleans, I can confirm that the deconcentration of poverty has come from precisely this "razing of public housing projects" policy. However, I can also confirm that this "deconcentration of poverty" has most definitely NOT meant that life is getting better for those removed from public housing. It certainly doesn't mean that they leave their homes in the "ghettos" because they have better jobs. They are being kicked out of their homes without any concern for whether or not they have of jobs. In fact, evicting them often means they risk losing jobs because of relocation to areas that lack adequate transportation to get them to their jobs. And even if they do have jobs (which, by the way, they probably had before "welfare reform" or before being evicted from their homes in the public housing projects), they are still likely to end up poorer because their income is the same, while their rents are likely higher. Sadly, many who have jobs and are struggling to break the cycle of poverty find themselves entering the ranks of the homeless because of these disruptions and through no fault of their own. And, as you might imagine, it is hard to be homeless and hold on to a job.

The simple fact is that absolute poverty has grown, not diminished. In fact, even in Pear's article one finds the following tidbit that Kaus conveniently overlooks: "Despite the strong economy, the number of people classified as poor in the 2000 census was slightly higher than the number counted a decade earlier." So, the upshot is that poor people aren't better off. In fact, as I pointed out, they are likelier poorer. And, as Pear pointed out, there are even more people poor today than before welfare reform. It's simply that these greater numbers of poor people are just more spread out, moving to and living on the streets of your neighborhood and mine (since they can't afford the rents), and less concentrated in the one area where they can afford the rent - all of which makes it even more difficult for social agencies, even privately-sponsored ones, to address the problem effectively.

Kaus sees the "deconcentration of poverty" that has resulted essentially from forced evictions as a positive sign of the success of welfare reform. I see the increase in "absolute poverty" and the hugh societal disruptions caused by the "deconcentration of poverty" and the dispersion of poverty as even more problematic. And welfare reform, if it has anything at all to do with it, tends to exacerbate the problem. If "absolute poverty" has increased over the years, I certainly don't see where Kaus gets off saying that welfare reform has helped.

Cuaderno Latinoamericano - "Dissident Accuses Cuba of Manipulating Fear of U.S. Invasion" -- No question: the repression is reprehensible and we need to speak out against it and on behalf of freedom. But ... It seems to me that this "manipulation" by Castro (and the accusation by PayĆ”) wouldn't play if the fear weren't real. I mean, imagine Canada "manipulating fear of U.S. invasion." We'd take this as a joke, no? (Think Alan Alda and Canadian Bacon.) Not so when it comes to Cuba. My question: Why not? Answer: Because the fear IS real. And it's not just Castro propaganda that makes it so. There is a long history of less-than-friendly U.S. treatment of Cuba - even pre-Castro - which gives the fear some grounding and traction in Cuban consciousness, even among dissidents.

Monday, May 19, 2003

Lagniappe - The Godfather bestows his blessings on a loyal henchman:

Mr. Bush, who playfully kissed Mr. Fleischer on the head at the end of their meeting on Friday in the Oval Office, evidently never held the loyal spokesman's mistakes against him.
Or is it the Judas touch? Watch out, Mr. Fleischer!

TAKE TWO: Santorum might have a different understanding of such a "private, intimate" moment! And in the Oval Office, too! (Huck, get that mind out of the gutter!)

The "DO AS I SAY, NOT AS I DO" Club - Well, it didn't take me long to find another member of the club. In fact, it was almost a sure-fire guess. Who is it? None other than Cal Thomas.

Club Members:
Cal Thomas
Kathryn Jean Lopez
Jay Nordlinger

I'm taking additions to the list! Send me names and links.

Lagniappe - Well, the Bennett controversy has somewhat died down, but every so often it pops back up with Bennett's conservative defenders making the same tired old argument: "What Bennett did doesn't negate the value of what the man has said." I've heard this sentiment expressed so frequently, that I've just got to start the "Do as I say, not as I do" Club. I've already noted that Kathryn Jean Lopez (a.k.a. "K-Lo") has made this argument. Now we can add another one of her National Review colleagues: Jay Nordlinger. (Scroll down to the sixth item of his bulleted column - in response to a Frank Rich editorial.) I'm sure there are others at the National Review who have made this argument. I'm now on a quest to find out who these people are, and then add them to the club. Stay tuned.

Thursday, May 15, 2003

Kingfishery and Kingcakery - Is Louisiana politics turning the corruption corner? I'll believe it when I see recent reform efforts produce consistent, concrete results.

Liberal Lighthouse - Now we know the real reason for the existence of the Department of Homeland Security - it's the Republican Party's own private investigator to determine the whereabouts and behaviors NOT of the nation's external enemies, but of the internal domestic opponents of the GOP. And all funded by taxpayer dollars.

Cuaderno Latinoamericano - The Washington Post's Marcela Sanchez has a nice column giving some good perspective on why most of Latin America kept its distance from Washington in the war against Saddam's regime. She writes:

There are other convincing explanations for why so many remain outside the U.S.-led ranks. The history of U.S. interventions in the region remains fresh in their minds, and they are reluctant to support a U.S. foreign policy doctrine that ignores and threatens to undermine international organizations created to help preserve world peace and respect self-determination.

U.S. officials have accused some outside the coalition of weak leadership that preferred to let antiwar and anti-American feelings in their own countries guide their decisions. Sure, polls that showed 80 percent or more popular rejection to the war would have been difficult to ignore by any U.S. or foreign politician. Yet, standing up to a powerful and traditional ally like the United States is not precisely a sign of weakness.
The rest of her piece is just as good. Read it.

Liberal Lighthouse Michael Kinsley has been in rare form these days. In this particular column, he exposes the lie that the true American dream success stories in the private sector are only successes when the government cuts taxes and gets off their backs. Rather, he clearly shows that it is precisely because the government showers them with contracts and tax dollars that they succeed. I wonder if one looks at the really big corporations - Halliburton, Microsoft, Enron, the Airlines, Big Steel, Big Agriculture, etc. - would one find that they are big and wealthy and successful only because of the largesse of the government (municipal, state, and federal) towards them. Makes lots of sense to me.

Blog Banter - Jonah Goldberg writes in NRO's The Corner in a post about the new Matrix flick: "I'm not going to review it for NRO but, once again, Stephen Hunter does a great job (though I think I liked it a bit more than him)." (Emphasis mine) It probably should read: "... more than he)." This is a grammatical gaffe for Nordlinger or the venerable Buckley himself to take on. No one is perfect, but mistakes like this just should not happen at the National Review. (Unless Jonah really did mean that he liked the movie more than he likes Stephen Hunter!!)

Wednesday, May 14, 2003

Blog Banter - Andrew Sullivan has a wonderful little piece on Hillary Clinton and the 2008 Presidential Election. Andrew's distate for Hillary is no secret. He starts his column with this introduction:

Cue the music from "Jaws." Or "Fatal Attraction." You get the idea. Just when you thought the Democratic Party was flailing around in its attempt to gain any political traction, a familiar and fascinating figure is haunting the sidelines. In a sign of how pitiful the Democratic talent pool seems these days, that figure is one Hillary Rodham Clinton.
But, in spite of his distaste for Hillary, Andrew cannot help but inspire us liberals to hope for the future as he suggests it could be. As a diehard liberal, I've been in a grump since Bush captured the White House, and in a downright funk since the fiasco of last November's elections (saved from outright despondency ONLY by Mary Landrieu - another Hillaryesque figure I might add - and her fabulous, election-season-ending win in my home state of Louisiana). But, reading Andrew's piece, why he's got me all excited about 2008! One delicious point he didn't make - and probably carefully avoided - is the simple fact that Hillary, by being a "betrayed" wife, not to mention a woman with some comeback spunk wrapped in senatorial glow, will resonate with more than just the core liberal base. She'll win a lot of support from politically moderate, even usually right-leaning, soccer moms and professional women. And when the theocratic right begins to rant about the genetic and moral unsuitability of a woman president, Hillary's stock will rise even higher among women of all political persuasions. Get ready for another 8 years of Clintons in the White House! I'll remember Andew Sullivan fondly when it happens.

Thursday, May 08, 2003

The Weak in (National) Review - Covert Cop "Jack Dunphy" has a typical hyperbolic and racist rant against Mexico. This pseudo-law enforcement officer, who likes to hide behind a "nom de cyber" like he probably likes to hide behind fabricated evidence, is angry that Mexico refuses to extradite a fugitive wanted for murdering a cop because this fugitive will likely face the death penalty in the U.S., a penalty which Mexico opposes on principle. I think "Dunphy's" anger is understandable at a personal level, but directing his anger at Mexico does nothing more than reveal his deeply-held prejudices. And his apparent vindictiveness does not square with his role as an "impartial" enforcer of the law. You'd think that "Dunphy" would be grateful this fugitive, one Armando Garcia, is removed from U.S. territory. But no, instead of being thankful that U.S. citizens are now safe from this menace, "Dunphy" wants him back to face the justice system he cynically despises for its ineffectiveness ("Explaining this [California's sentencing rules] to outsiders is like explaining relativity: A man goes away to serve an eight-year sentence but comes back only four years older.") "Dunphy" doesn't want justice, nor apparently does he even want the "safety" of the citizens he has sworn to protect: he wants vengeance via the electric chair.

Another point: It is illustrative that "Dunphy," who works for the LAPD - that scandal-free paragon of anti-corruption - takes a swipe at the entire Mexican political system by declaring the Mexican government to be "corrupt from top to bottom." Not only is his sweeping generalization about the Mexican government just plain wrong, he would do well to turn his anti-corruption crusade closer to home and start with his own organization's "widows and orphans" fund.

"Dunphy" is an angry, cowardly man. He likes to make examples of black and hispanic criminals - naming names and throwing around his self-righteousness. But he hides behind a "nom de cyber" - keeping his own persona safe from the consequences of his opinions. Come out from behind your Ray-bans, "Dunphy," and at least demonstrate the courage of your convictions like a good Dixie Chick.

Cuaderno Latinoamericano - The essential Andres Oppenheimer has two pointed columns on the future of inter-American affairs, and specifically on U.S.-Latin American relations. Read them. Here's the most recent column. And here's another one from last week.

Liberal Lighthouse - I am just so tickled by all the gassing being done concerning the Bill Bennett gambling flap. What's more, most of this is coming from the defensive and yet self-righteous right. (See the National Review, for example.) But the best little gem of liberal gloating has to be Michael Kinsley's piece. Check it out, but please do try to contain your twittering giggles, after all we are talking about a man's sad addiction here.

Sunday, May 04, 2003

The Weak in (National) Review - K-Lo's Halos - commentary on the sanctimonious self-righteousness of Kathryn Jean Lopez. In a recent post to the National Review's weblog, "The Corner," K-Lo has this little sentence:

They don't think a president having an affair and lying about it under oath, and dragging the country through ugliness and waste is anything that should affect one's professional life.
Ahem...I don't think Clinton was doing the dragging, dearie. I'm sure the man would have been content to keep the matter quite private. Your cherished Republicans did the dragging through ugliness and waste. And later on in this very same post, K-Lo writes regarding the relevance of William J. Bennett's gambling to his publications on moral conduct:
You know, there are conservatives who drink, too. And some are divorced. And...and that doesn't mean that their arguments or research (Bennett's "Leading Cultural Indictators," for instance), are somehow irrelevant because of them.
Take two: Let me try to fill in those ellipses:
You know, there are conservatives who drink, too. And some are divorced. And some have gay sex, commit adultery with their brothers-in-law, fornicate with interns in their offices, traumatize children with pictures of aborted fetuses, smoke pot, peek at pornography, drive drunk, wallop their wives, etc....and that doesn't mean that their arguments or research (Bennett's "Leading Cultural Indictators," for instance), are somehow irrelevant because of them.
In other words, do as I say and not as I do. Nice rationale, K-Lo. Forget about leading by example. I thought Conservatives despised such moral relativism. K-Lo may not be the most stringent and strident conservative voice at the National Review, but her writing is by far the most puerile. One thing's for sure, K-Lo: I'm glad you're not the mother of my children.

Saturday, May 03, 2003

Liberal Lighthouse - Well, the expose on William J. Bennett's gambling habits is out. The story is making the rounds on the weblogs, with liberals generally gloating over Bennett's perceived hypocrisy and conservatives dismissively downplaying what must certainly be a disappointing revelation. From my point of view, the whole story is much ado about nothing. Bennett has a gambling addiction; and he refuses to square it with his own high standards of moral and virtuous conduct. Upon reflection, it's actually more sad and pathetic than outrageous. It won't and shouldn't be more than a blip in the political debate. As a liberal who thinks that Clinton's sexual foibles had nothing to do with his ability to run a government and to lead this country, and that we had no business dragging the man's sex life through the courts, I also hold that Bennett's gambling has no relevance to the political discourse of the day. Liberals should give Bennett his vices and let them speak for themselves to the people who would make his gambling habits a moral problem. It is a question of consistency of thought and of rising above the baseness of this pattern of scandalmongering that so defines the conservative agenda. It is enough to see conservatives squeamishly trying to explain away and rationalize Bennett's behavior with his rhetoric. For example, I have gotten great satisfaction seeing Kathryn Jean Lopez of The National Review claim essentially that the "immorality" of Bennett's behavior doesn't negate the value of the "morality" that he preaches - even when they are in conflict. Liberals need to take the high road and just let Conservatives beat themselves up over this.