December 11, 2004 [LINK]

"That's really gotta hurt!"

Doctors in Austria have confirmed what Ukrainian presidential candidate Victor Yushchenko has been saying: the hideous deterioration of his face since last summer is the result of poisoning, by dioxins to be precise. See for a dramatic photographic contrast. If this poisoning incident was a political dirty trick engineered by the Kremlin, Russian politics are in even worse shape than most people thought. President Bush said last year that he could see into Mr. Putin's soul and saw a good man. Yikes. I hope this is not an accurate overall indication of "W" as a judge of character. Putin's recent fierce and obnoxious criticisms of the United States and the West are strange, given the fact that we both face a common enemy -- Islamo-fascist terrorism.

The burgeoning democracy movement in Ukraine is one of the most uplifting global political trends of recent months, and represents an opportunity for the U.S. and Europe to work together. I was a little annoyed that the huge crowds in downtown Kiev were "singing" a protest rap "song". Whatever happened to rock and roll as a symbol of Western freedom?? It would appear that the old-style blatantly despotic tendencies of incumbent President Kuchma and his hand-picked successor, Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, may not work after all. The second (hopefully clean) election will be held on December 26.

December 11, 2004 [LINK]

Cabinet shakeups

Former NYPD top cop Bernard Kerik shocked everyone by withdrawing as nominee to be the next Secretary of Homeland Security because of the same kind of "nannygate" scandal that plagued Bill Clintons' second choice as Attorney General, Zoe Baird. (His first choice was Lani Guinier, remember?) Whether Kerik was well-suited for a national-level position, I don't know. He may have been picked for symbolic reasons, since he was in charge of New York police during the 9/11 attacks. I hope not.

What is more worrisome to me is the offhanded way Bush seems to have been deciding on the fate of his top officials. In the Chicago Sun Times, Robert Novak wrote:

For nearly two weeks, John Snow had been twisting in the wind. Snow had not heard one word on whether he should leave or stay as secretary of the Treasury until Wednesday, when President Bush asked him to remain at least temporarily.

Snow is a perfectly capable and politically loyal cabinet official. Why Bush would hesitate to ask him to stay on, especially when so many other cabinet secretaries are leaving, is a mystery to me. Maybe Karl Rove knows...

December 11, 2004 [LINK]


Last week Congressman Henry Waxman (D-CA) called attention to a report by House staffers that casts doubt on the effectiveness of school programs that encourage teens to abstain from sexual activity. He said the data and findings of Bush administration reports did not meet standard scientific criteria. A Heritage Foundation study written Melissa Pardue gives support to the abstinence approach, however. See

By coincidence, yesterday it was reported that American teenagers are now waiting longer to have sex than in the 1990s. Does this reflect the morali proselytizing of President Bush, the First Lady, and his administration? Probably not. Presidents have no more control over individual behavior than they do on the wheels of the economy, except in a very general, indirect way. It should be noted, nevertheless, that good examples by adults in positions of authority certainly can't hurt. Which leads us to baseball...