The Democrats' problem is partly a lack of strong leadership. Its main spokesman on foreign policy has become Sen. Joseph Biden, a man who -- how to put this politely? -- seems more impressed with the force of his own intellect than an objective evaluation would warrant. Listening to Biden, you sense how hungry he is to be president, but you have little idea what he would do, other than talk . . . and talk.
When evaluating senators who live and work and go to dinner parties in Washington, the Beltway establishment is often right, I've found. They know these people better than the rest of us! The Beltway's especially reliable if you discount for its comical biases--e.g., treating respectable fixtures like Howard Baker and Robert Strauss as giants. Here, the obvious Beltway impulse would be to build Biden up into an admired elder statesman, and the fact that Washingtonians still think he's a middleweight blowhard has the credibility of a statement against interest. [Readers are writing to note that Biden doesn't live in Washington. He commutes from Wilmington, Delaware--ed Close enough! Maybe [the commuting] contributes to his unpopularity among the Beltway know-it-alls: he doesn't think their company is worth hanging around for.--reader J.R. Maybe he doesn't hang around because he senses they can't stand him!]
**-- Here's Biden's big Brookings speech on Iraq. The only substantial difference with Bush, that I see, is Biden's call for establishing a "contact group" with "European and regional partners." They'd be given "a seat at the decision-making table." The payoff would be that Shia politicians could make concessions to the Sunnis and then tell their Shia constituents, "'The international community made me do it.'" Arguably, that would go over better than, "The Americans made me do it." But Biden's basic strategy--stand up the Iraqi government and military, wean Sunni support away from the insurgents--is the same as Bush's. He should admit it. ...[But he also calls for "clear benchmarks"!--ed Classic makeweight Kabuki Congressional demand. When you have nothing else to say, call for "clear benchmarks" or a "new compact," or a timetable or some other gimmick. Biden has here arguably violated the Benchmark Proliferation Reduction Act by failing to append a Benchmark Proliferation Impact Statement to his speech.] 2:50 P.M. link
Stix Trix? Wyoming, Utah, Nevada and Nebraska each have higher median incomes than New York? I know New York City has lots of low-income workers. Still ... Update: These are figures for household income and I suspect they're affected by differences in average household size in different states. New York's households may have fewer people in them. Still! ... [You originally dropped the "n" in "median"--ed I've done worse. A 1992 press release for my book emphasized its call for the creation of a "vast pubic sphere." They created that almost immediately! It's called the Web--ed Even outside the Internet, the policy proposal is still being implemented.] 1:54 A.M.
L.A.'s Brady Westwater finds New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin's performance less-than-Giulianiesque. Or even Riordanesque. ... 1:28 A.M.
Katrina Relief List:Instapundit has posted a list of ways to donate to Katrina Relief--including helpful recommendations of efficient aid outfits from trustworthy bloggers (something you almost certainly won't find in your local newspaper). ... P.S.: I'm assuming the American Red Cross has learned the lesson of its 9/11 debacle. [See also this especially damning TNR article, and this unconvincing, contrarian defense ]... Update: See also N.Z. Bear's relief list. ... Mystery Pollster notes that the Red Cross has the big advantage of being well positioned to achieve economies of scale. ... 11:26 P.M. link
Feiler never met Google Desktop: I just installed the highly-touted Google Desktop search engine because a friend of mine told me that it will change my life. It will. My computer is now running about half the speed it used to and I'm going to lose my job! I think I will now uninstall Google Desktop. [Update: Google gone. Speed back.] ... P.S.: Good to see Google picking up--i.e. overloading Windows with features it can't handle--where Microsoft is leaving off [$]. Perhaps that's their fiendish strategy for destroying Bill Gates. ... 10:07 P.M. link
"Titan Rain"--isn't that kind of a demoralizing name to give a suspected Chinese attempt to penetrate our computers and steal our military secrets? Is there any hope of resisting something called "Titan Rain"? It could be the work of an Oriental mindermast. ... 10:58 P.M. link
Why isn't this big news? I must be missing something. It doesn't look like a hoax (though I would have more confidence if it were here). [Via Iraq the Model ]... Update: The article has now vanished, suspiciously, from Al Mendhar's site. It had said what Iraq the Model says it said--that Iraq's Ayatollah Sistani had