June 28, 2004

Big Fat Liar

I saw Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 last night; I have a review up at The American Spectator online.

Posted by John Tabin at 01:18 AM | Comments (5)

June 25, 2004

More Ill. Annoyed

In the wake of scandal, Jack Ryan has dropped out of the Illinois senate race. Says the AP:

Illinois GOP leaders would select another candidate in the event of a withdrawal....

Several names immediately surfaced, including state Sen. Steve Rauschenberger and dairy owner Jim Oberweis, both of whom lost to Ryan in the primary, and former state Board of Education chairman Ron Gidwitz. Additionally, other GOP officials floated the name of Patrick Fitzgerald, a U.S. attorney in Illinois.

ArchPundit is all over the story. On the potential replacements, he highlights a Capitol Fax item:

The name most mentioned yesterday as a possible Ryan replacement was Ron Gidwitz, a wealthy businessman and education reform crusader. Gidwitz has a lot of friends in the party, but he is not loved by Mayor Daley and the teachers' unions, which he battled at the City Colleges of Chicago. Another name that popped up out of the blue is Jayne Thompson, the wife of the former governor, although nobody really knows if she'd even accept such an offer. Of course, there are also the other usual suspects, Jim Edgar, Jim Thompson (both of whom reportedly don't want it), Judy Baar Topinka (doesn't want it), Steve Rauschenberger (wants it, but lost the primary), Jim Oberweis (anti-illegal immigrant weirdness in the primary rules him out), etc.

ArchPundit also has a tip that primary loser Andy McKenna isn't interested.

If it's Gidwitz, he starts the race way behind, and ArchPundit already has quite a bit on his liabilities. Unless one of the former governor's changes his mind, none of the other names floated are all that impressive, either. Such is the state of the Illinois GOP.

Posted by John Tabin at 04:49 PM | Comments (0)

Gore's Gone Wild

I take a look at Al Gore's lastest speech in a new AmSpec column today.

Update: Nice of Instapundit to link to the column, even if he did give away the ending.

Posted by John Tabin at 12:48 AM | Comments (11)

June 24, 2004

Readers Rant Back

There are several responses to my AmSpec column on the Illinois race in today's Reader Mail (scroll down to "Jeri Rigged"); a couple of them are quite funny.

Meanwhile, the Feedback thread for my TCS column from Tuesday devolved quickly into an argument that (I'm boldly predicting) no one will win; I participated for a few posts, but then gave up.

Posted by John Tabin at 09:16 AM | Comments (0)

The Jewish "Jew" Question

A while back I helped my Dad set up a (now-defunct) blog focusing on the relationship between Jews and the Republican party; I picked gopjew.blogspot.com for the URL. My Dad laughed as if this was somehow subversive, and later told me that my grandfather had been actually offended, but had said "gopjewish" would have been alright. This puzzled me, but I didn't think much about it until Eugene Volokh posted:

WHAT's WITH THOSE JEWISH PEOPLE?: Why do some people think that it's more polite to say "Jewish people" than "Jews"? I've heard some people say that "Jews" is somehow considered rude, and "Jewish people" is better, but I just don't see why.

Does anyone know the story here? People don't generally say "black people," "Catholic people," or "female people." Why should they call us "Jewish people" rather than just "Jews"? I don't quite get it.

(I'm not saying that "Jewish people" is wrong -- if you want to say that, it's fine with me, though it will sound affected to me and people who think like me, at least until we're persuaded that "Jews" is somehow bad.)

David Bernstein responded:

"JEW!": Regarding Eugene's question as to why some consider it impolite to called Jews "Jews" instead of "Jewish people," I can contribute a little history. By the 19th century, the word "Jew" was thought by enlightened folks to have derogatory connotations. The leadership of the Reform movement led an effort to abandon the word "Jew" in favor of "Hebrews" or "Israelites," I assume because they thought those words had positive Biblical vibes. Indeed, the confederation of American Reform synagogues is still known as the Union of American Hebrew Congregations. [It recently became the Union for Reform Judaism, as Bernstein notes in an update.] If I'm not mistaken, the leading American Jewish periodical before the wave of (decidedly non-Reform) Eastern European migration in the late 19th century was "The American Israelite." And if you read 19th century publications, friends of the Jews would often refer to them as "Israelites," "Hebrews," "Members of the Mosaic Faith," and other euphemisms that avoid the nasty-sounding word "Jew."

Neither Hebrew nor Israelite ever caught on, but discomfort with the word "Jew" remains. And indeed, anti-Semitic discourse seems to always use the word "Jew," not "Jewish people," as in "dirty Jew!"; or "the Jews control (the media, Hollywood, the Bush Administration's foreign policy);" or "Jews or so clannish." Indeed, I'm told that before I arrived at GMU Law School, one professor--who left before I started at GMU--angrily referred to one of my colleagues as "you little Jew." He disingenuously defended himself from charges of anti-Semitism by noting that my colleague is both diminunitive and Jewish.

This is all very interesting, and provides some insight into why different people might hear different connotations to the same word. But saying "Jewish person" for "Jew" still strikes me as a neurotic affectation to persist with.

While we're on the subject of brevity vs. affectation, let me share a pet peeve: the word "utilize," a favorite of middlebrow types who seem to think that a pretentious and unnecessary substitution for the perfectly respectable "use" will make the speaker sound more educated (it won't). It's almost entirely utilizeless.

Posted by John Tabin at 09:05 AM | Comments (0)

June 23, 2004

Ill. Annoyed

I have an AmSpec column today on the Illinois Senate race and the sex scandal that Republican candidate Jack Ryan faces over revelations from his newly unsealed divorce papers.

Posted by John Tabin at 01:23 AM | Comments (0)

June 22, 2004

You Know, Kih-nekt-tid

My review of Stephen Hayes's The Connection is up at TechCentralStation.

Hayes returns to some of the material from the book as he looks at last weeks kerfuffle over the 9/11 comission staff reports in the current Weekly Standard, in an article well worth reading.

(Brownie points to the first person to identify the allusion in the title to this post.)

Posted by John Tabin at 02:39 AM | Comments (8)

June 18, 2004

"Saddam + Bin Laden?"

The answer to that question-- the headline of a January 11, 1999 Newsweek article -- is emphatically yes, despite what more recent headlines might imply. (The glut of information on the Saddam-al Qaeda relationship that became public around the time of that Newsweek story is now conveniently forgotten by our esteemed press corps.) The most comprehensive rebuke to the "no link ever" CW is to be found in Stephen Hayes's The Connection: How al Qaeda's Collaboration with Saddam Hussein Has Endangered America; I have a review forthcoming. And I was going to write an AmSpec column about the topic, but George Neumayr beat me to it. Also check out yesterday's treatment by Andrew C. McCarthy for NRO; McCarthy's article is a small taste of the evidence that Hayes marshals. (Did I mention that the book is good? It is.)

Posted by John Tabin at 09:05 PM | Comments (1)

June 07, 2004

R.I.P. R.W.R.

My latest for The American Spectator online, on growing up in the age of Reagan, is now up.

The rest of the site features more Gipper-related content, as do several other websites.

Posted by John Tabin at 02:21 AM | Comments (0)

June 02, 2004

Squeaker in the Black Hills

Here's the post-mortem on the South Dakota that I promised yesterday.

Larry Sabato thinks that the Herseth victory is actually bad for Daschle, because South Dakotans won't want to be represented by three Democrats. I still say the two races aren't connected much, counterintuitively or otherwise. But John J. Miller is surely right that the White House could have put Diedrich over the top with a Bush visit; you don't suppose Karl Rove agrees with Sabato's analysis, do you?

Posted by John Tabin at 10:01 AM | Comments (1)

June 01, 2004

Veepstakes

In the latest National Review vs. New Republic OpinionDuel, John J. Miller and Michael Crowley are discussing Kerry's best choices for the vice presidential nomination. In the first round, Miller talks up Dick Gephardt while Crowley touts John Edwards and Sam Nunn.

My instinct is that, of those, Edwards would be the best choice for Kerry (though I'm not predicting he'll make it); I don't really buy Miller's "dullness is a virute" theory, at least not in the case of a ticket with Kerry on top.

Here's another take on the veep search, which I link to because it made me laugh.

Posted by John Tabin at 11:00 PM | Comments (1)

A Very Special Election

Polls closed 15 minutes ago in eastern South Dakota, and will close in 45 minutes in western South Dakota, in the closely-watched special election to fill that state's vacant at-large House seat. My sense is that Democrat Stephanie Herseth is still the likely winner, though the polls have tightened up quite a bit. Either way, this has less bearing on the November Daschle vs. Thune senate race than many assume; more on that tomorrow, when I'll have a post-mortem on AmSpec.

You can watch the results come in here.

Posted by John Tabin at 08:16 PM | Comments (0)