Can’t Win For Losing

Did Bush notch a moral victory on social security?

Margaret Thatcher once suggested that the goal of the ruling party wasn’t necessarily to preside forever in the majority, but rather until the opposition came to its senses. In that spirit, Publius suggests that while Bush may have failed to enact his Social Security reforms (read Jacob Weisberg, “Bush’s First Defeat“)…

Presidents can win (or lose) without any new or changed legislation or programs. Indeed, they often win by shifting the nature or the terms of a debate or by creating a situation in which Congress, not the White House, is blamed for this or that problem or crisis, or by sticking it to the other party, forcing its leaders to take stands that do them some political harm.
Has Bush actually reframed the Social Security debate? Steve-R tends to agree that…
he has already succeeded in having his preposterous idea that Social Security is in grave risk of total collapse get traction. This is taken as gospel among his followers, and the “debate” about Social Security’s impending disaster has been picked up in the mainstream media.
And ElephantGun believes the Bush strategy has been a net-win just by getting the issue out in the open and by testing the waters:
The Bush administration loses nothing by continuing to put out social security trial balloons and hoping that one of them sticks. By throwing out the trial balloons, they keep providing material for conservative talk radio and right-wing television and keeping their conservative electoral base mobilized for the 2008 “Bush legacy” election. If the political wind doesn’t shift in their direction, Bush then can take the air out of the issue by appoint a blue-ribbon study commission. And that would be the end of it. The Bush administration wouldn’t have gained much by floating social security “reform,” but they wouldn’t have lost anything either.
The_Bell offers an interesting theory on Bush, mainly that “he seems to almost thrive on not winning”:
Despite receiving a minority of the popular vote in 2000, he nonetheless managed to win the Presidency in the Electoral College. Despite controversy and skepticism prior to invasion, the embarrassment of no WMDs found there, and the ongoing morass of insurgent attacks that continue sapping coalition lives, he nonetheless managed to turn public, and perhaps historical, perceptions of Iraq as that of a triumph for U.S. national security and a springboard for the democratization of the Middle East. Despite his first term Cabinet appointments being derided by Democrats as short-sighted partisan loyalists, he nonetheless managed to replace every senior official who left his service with even more rabidly ideological insiders.

When Islamic terrorists crashed planes into skyscrapers, his popularity skyrocketed. When early exit polls on Election Day 2004 almost uniformly showed him losing to John Kerry, he wound up with a fairly impressive Electoral College victory instead and even won the popular vote outright this time around. It is almost paradoxical – the worst things get for the man, the more he prospers.
NeverHome taps into this dymanic, too, claiming that Social Security is actually Bush’s second major policy loss. He quotes Wayne Slater from the Dallas Morning News on Bush’s education plan while governor of Texas. Jester2459 gets in on the thread here, adding:
Part of his self-image is that his battles are uphill, but ultimately necessary, right, and just. So adversity won’t prompt him to move to a different topic; adversity will confirm his sense that he is engaged in an historic struggle.
VitaminTommy feels that “Bush should get points for trying,” moreover…
Any president that doesn’t suffer at least one big policy defeat over two terms isn’t trying hard enough.
Finally, Zathras chalks up the defeat to the fact that “Bush’s [enthusiasm for private accounts] is mostly the product of inertia.” Here’s Z, putting it in context:
It probably won’t have much influence at all. There are plenty of conservatives in Washington think tanks who are passionate about private retirement accounts and all the ideological baggage that goes with them, but outside of Washington (and, perhaps, the boardrooms of some companies that handle mutual funds and other financial instruments) this is an idea without a dedicated constituency. Private accounts had daylight in 1999, when it appeared that their transition costs could easily be funded out of projected federal budget surpluses. That’s why they got on then-Governor Bush’s campaign agenda; the reason he is pushing for them now is because they were on the agenda then, and the items ahead of private accounts – tax cuts, education reform – have mostly been done already.
Manual Labor: A Fray Editor’s work is never doneKA3:15 p.m.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

In BOTF, -Dilettante- sets up a moral framework to discuss the ethical implications of the Terri Schiavo case:

After spending lots of mental energy following all Terri, all the time, I’ve come to the conclusion that what you believe on this case, and in fact on all ‘right to life’ issues, boils down to your answers to three questions.
What are those three questions? Click here to build your framework.Engram implores us to “stop posturing about posturing.” In response to William Saletan’s Human Nature piece, Engram writes:
People like Saletan seem to think along these lines: “I certainly wouldn’t want to live under those conditions, so I can’t get too excited about the decision to pull her feeding tube.” I wouldn’t want to live under those conditions either, but that’s not terribly relevant.
Fine, says Retief. “If you want more discussion of the merits of the case, let’s start with your suggestions that she is conscious and sentient.” Retief’s definitions are spelled out here.On the rule of law front, locdog has choice words for Dahlia Lithwick, who writes on the Schiavo case and Congress here:
[Lithwick] has argued that congress is overstepping its bounds by usurping authority that rightfully belongs to state courts, and transferring it to a federal court. she brays about federalism and state’s rights and “bedrock constitutional principle” but can’t seem to find the specific article of the constitution that congress and the president violated…probably because there isn’t any. they’re perfectly legit as far as the letter of the law goes. and as far as the spirit goes, yes, the spirit of our nation is rule of law, but that law is made by the people through elected officials. that’s what a republic is: self-governance through our representatives.
Publius agrees:
to suggest, as she and … many others who ought to know better that this legislation transgresses “the rule of law” is simply absurd. She seems to forget what sweeping authority legislatures have to legislate, even where they may act foolishly or make poor judgments. Seeing this line of argument in so many places makes one begin to think that those, like Dahlia, who have come to depend for so long on courts, not legislatures, to make the laws are disturbed that the legislature retains the power to do so.
Even Dahlia fan Fritz_Gerlich concedes that the “comity between state and federal courts” …
has been quietly eroding for the last 25 years. Do you have any idea how many instances there are now of “special” enactments to put courts in strait-jackets? In my state, for example, the rules of court now contain at least a dozen controversial amendments forced on the courts. All sorts of evidence is now legislatively admissible; all sorts of executive decisions are now legislatively not reviewable. I assume the experience of courts in other states and in the federal jurisdiction has been comparable. Congress’ action re: Schaivo is merely the same trend writ very large. It didn’t spring out of the blue; it’s been happening for a long time.
But, here, Trad isn’t…
waiting on pins and needles for a colorable claim to Constitutionality from Congress. Due process doesn’t cut it, and the other usual suspects (“commerce clause,” etc.) don’t offer a whit of support for this legislation. It’s a baseless law, and the hundreds of lawyers that make up Congress should know better. It’s one thing to pass a law that might not be unconstitutional—let the courts deal with the subtleties of such laws, including concerns about “federalism” and the fringes of the “separation of powers” doctrine—but it’s another thing to pass something so flagrantly beyond Constitutionally enumerated powers that Congress doesn’t even bother offering a meaningful legal justification. Congress sold out, period.
In response, Pub calls Trad’s argument a “non-starter.” The_Slasher-8 feels that “Dahlia doesn’t go far enough“:
…what’s alarming here is not the violation of states rights – that has been done before and will be done again by both sides of the debate. What is alarming here is that Congress has moved to trump courts ON A SINGLE CASE BASIS, and if they can get away with it this time, we no longer have a court system. …we can expect to see it happen again and again. Next time a court acts to block the death penalty from being applied to some Ted Bundy type, what is to stop Congress from stepping in and authorizing the Attorney General to prosecute him at the federal level with the death penalty on the table. The Constitution, you say?
JohnLex7 insists that U.S. District Judge James Whitmore’s refusal to order the reinsertion of Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube “is conservative”:
Injunctive relief is only to be granted when you can show a substantial probability of winning the case on the merits. You don’t get an injunction just to get the chance to win the case on the merits. The status quo is to be maintained unless you can show that you are going to win. As the court stated, “Even under these difficult and time strained circumstances, however, and not withstanding Congress’ expressed interest in the welfare of Theresa Schiavo, this court is constrained to apply the law to the issues before it.” In other words, Congress can be interested all it wants, but it can’t make a federal court grant an injunction.
Finally, the tenor of the Schiavo fiasco has self-proclaimed liberal, AustinCityLights, disgusted with both sides of the debate. He  takes aim at Lithwick:
I agree that Ms. Lithwick’s heated rhetoric and self-righteous indignation don’t help the debate on either side. They don’t persuade, and they certainly inflame the disagreements from Schiavo’s defenders. It’s not what I expected from a legal journalist. And to speak of the rule of law, as Lithwick does, is not that honest. Liberals, including myself, understand that it’s incredibly difficult to have a principled position on federalism. The boundaries separating the states and the federal government are fuzzy. In the end, although Ms. Lithwick is probably right, she’s right for the wrong reasons, or at least she’s not as forthcoming as I’d expect.

I recently read a piece in the National Review equating the removal of Schiavo’s feeding tube with torture. The author, I suspect, was hoping to score some cheap points against anti-torture liberals. It symbolized what’s wrong with debate in this country. Ms. Lithwick didn’t go that far, but she didn’t further understanding either.
Fraywatch wonders if William F. Buckley comes over to kill the spiders in ACL’s apartment? …KA10:50 a.m.

Friday, March 18, 2005 …When the day came that my father’s breathing indicated to us that he should be administered the painkiller/sedative mix prescribed for his last hours, things didn’t always seem so clear cut as the instructions given to us by the hospice nurse. My father was dying, but he didn’t seem to be comforted by the medication as much as we were led to expect. The caretaker asked me if he should increase the dose. It became clear that we were both comforting my father with the medication and also hastening his death. It was a very strange feeling to be aware of what was happening, but I didn’t see any other choice, either. We were helping my father be more comfortable, and we were making him die sooner than we would have died. We increased the dosage a couple of times, and then he died, as I held his hand and talked to him… Rat, here, narrating the sequence of events stemming from the advance directive signed by his father while suffering from Parkinson’s Disease.
Female opinion columnists might be derided as “emasculating bitches” when they comment unfavorably on male subjects, as Dowd points out (and be accused of “cattiness” when they comment unfavorably on female subjects, as Dowd does not), but are male opinion columnists any better loved?

It seems to me that anybody who makes a living by forcefully stating their opinions about contentious political issues in the media is unlikely to be universally loved. Bob Novak (to take a random example) isn’t exactly accorded a sphere of respectful deference on account of his gender, and neither was Michael Kinsley.

If there are advantages and disadvantages to being a female opinion columnist, they’re a lot more subtle than simple gender discrimination by editors…Thrasymachus, here, on the raging pink page debate.
This massive and bloated public university, which is roughly half as academically impressive as it thinks it is, can be found nestled in a high-tech cornfield known as Champaign-Urbana. This is an undistinguished small city in the middle of nowhere, which is divided into two redundant city governments on either side of Wright Street, a division which serves the sole purpose of providing an excuse for why nearly every east-west street in town changes names when you cross Wright Street.

…The basketball arena looks suspiciously like an alien spacecraft disguised by the men in black. This may or may not be related to the University’s sole cultural achievement… being name-dropped as the birthplace of the psychotic HAL9000 computer in the movie 2001.

The team wears a putrid shade of orange, even at home, thus violating all roundball cultural norms. The mascot, “Chief Illiniwek”, is … either an obnoxious racist caricature from a benighted era, or a needless source of controversy that brings hippie protestors out of the woodwork…

Yes, there are plenty of reasons to Hate the Illini.

But I can’t quite bring myself to hate them. They’re a great team that’s well-coached and fun to watch …ShriekingViolet, here, rooting hard for Nevada on Saturday.
The Fray saw its best thread in weeks in BOTF:

…i’m sorry, but i can’t look into this woman’s smiling, conscious face and say she’s a vegetable. i can’t see her scowl at a swabbing and then pretend that it isn’t going to hurt like hell as she spends a week or so dying of dehydration–that’s a gruesome, barbaric death that the ACLU wouldn’t countenance for an instant if it were osama bin laden, let alone an innocent woman…locdog, here, the anchor for Thread of the Week, on the Schiavo case.
…Just this morning, Terry’s father said “There’s nothing wrong with her.” Helloooooooooo. Who’s in denial here? If they were her guardians, I’d say fine, they have every right to live in unfounded hope and denial. And, again, I have no stake in whether Terry stays on the tube or not. But the fact that you and your cohort have, oh the irony, summoned big-brother government to overrule every legal recourse her parents had and lost as being unfounded just further suggests which side here is on a rampage that seems to have nothing to do with Terry herself or who has ‘rights’ but just yet another power play by the Christian right to defy every legal institution, including marriage, which you now find not supporting even the thread you don’t have to hang such desperation on…zinya, here, in response.
Why should this woman be executed merely because her husband finds her existence troubling?

As a scientist, I feel that her chances of being rehabilitated are almost nil, but that’s not the issue. Did Schiavo tell her husband that she did not wish to be kept alive with a feeding tube, respirator, etc.? He says so. I don’t believe him. Nor do I believe a spouse is always the best guardian for an incapacitated person.

I admit that I am opposed to euthanasia and assisted suicide on religious grounds. (I’m Jewish, and Judaism does not condone suicide.) But in this case, my objection to the removal of Schiavo’s tube is based not on religion, but on my doubts that a) Schiavo ever said she wanted to be euthanized and b) that her husband is carrying out her wishes.

…BTW, I wouldn’t let my dog die of dehydration, as Schiavo will when her tube is removed. Cruel and unusual punishment for a person who committed no crime.QuiTam, here, in the thread.
You might think I have a vested interest in seeing Terry Schiavo die, but I don’t. I simply don’t see what you see in those videos, or, when I do, I think it’s explainable based purely on an understanding of what exactly the brainstem does. Smiles (it’s not clear to me that hers are in response to anything particular – especially during the music clip, which is among the least compelling), gaggin, eye movements, groans: these things happen in PVS. A side note – you’ve rightly corrected several people who refer to Schiavo as braindead, but you’re milking the same misconception by calling her a “vegetable” like you do, without pointing out that PVS is defined to allow far more motion and expression than, say, a plateful of cauliflower.

Question: The video is shot to make her actions look purposeful, but are they? How can you tell, for instance, that her eyes are really tracking the balloon? I think you want very much to believe her parents, and to disbelieve her doctors. That’s your right, of course. I am skeptical of her parents (whose motive is clear), and more ready to believe the doctors who have offered the gloomy prognosis. That I’m liberal and you’re conservative is, I think, a by-product of a more fundamental difference between us: religion vs skepticism. I’m not saying you need to believe in God or Christ to think Terry Schiavo should be kept alive – it’s more a comment our relative willingness to anthropomorphize.alexa-blue, here, in the thread.  

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Stephen Metcalf’s review of Ross Gregory Douthat’s memoir of his four years in college, Privilege: Harvard and the Education of the Ruling Class, touched a raw nerve, eliciting among fraysters that schizophrenic combination of fascination with–and resentment toward–Harvard as both an institution and incubator of America’s future élite. (Full disclaimer: FrayEditor05 is a graduate of the college in question. Which is not to say partisan defender or even sentimental ally of his alma mater.) RANGER82’s post I HATE/LOVE THE RICH aptly sums up this divided reaction. Betty_the_Crow has some harsh words for Mr. Douthat here.  TTrent objectsto the liberal (no pun intended) use of the term “middle class”:

In this entire debate, I’m amazed by how many former children of privilege describe themselves a middle-class. I suspect this is a way to avoid the heart of the matter – that replacing actual commitment to equality with a Bennenton-ad style ideology of diversity has created a self-congratulatory, multi-hued cultural ruling class whose seething contempt for the real members of the middle and working classes have fractured our politics.
Publius also takes Metcalf to task for repeating Douthat’s faulty assumption about class:
His use of the term “middle class” to describe the families of Ivy enrollees – as if people “who can afford the property taxes move to the best school districts, or send their children to private schools” are just your ordinary Joes and Sallys. He seems to think that the people who live in Scarsdale or send their kids to St. Albans are UPS drivers and bank clerks. The median household income in the US is about $45,000, so Metcalf is just using the term “middle class” to avoid coming to grips with the fact that the vast majority of Harvard kids come from very “privileged” backgrounds by the standards most Americans know…

Let’s be clear that this means after 30-plus years of diversification and openness, Harvard and Yale are unlikely to have more than about 10% students from families in the lower half of family income and only a handful from tru;y poor families. Meanwhile, anyone want to guess at what percentage of these students come from, say, the top 10% of incomes?

What’s happened is that the American ruling class has changed; it’s more Catholic and Jewish and less Protestant; it’s a bit more Black, Asian and Hispanic; it’s representatives in business and the professions are more likely to be women; and it’s ethos is somewhat more “liberal” at least where it’s own membership is concerned. And it’s center of gravity has moved quite a bit west.

For all that, to imagine that Harvard-trained investment bankers and corporate lawyers will do their banking and lawyering in a kindler, gentler way because of their demography is surely to miss completely what it means to be a part of a ruling elite.
Critiquing our supposedly meritocratic system of admissions from yet another angle, jamidwyer007 points out
…how many of the things that count as “merit” on a college application are really “privilege.”

most extra-curricular activities, especially sports, cost money. internships and good summer jobs go to kids with the right connections. travel costs money. SAT prep courses cost money. even playing in the orchestra is non-negotiable for kids whose parents can’t afford a musical instrument.
mrh3000 has this advice: “Universities truly concerned about diversity would be well advised to protect their sports programs and look for other ways to identify talent that cannot be manipulated in an application.” Don’t blame Harvard, says10yearson, “better to worry about public school funding”:
…it is important for someone to point out that there is not much Harvard, of all places, can do about educational opportunity in the U.S. By the time you do or don’t get into Harvard, much of the game is over. You can’t ask Harvard, of all places, to recognize, admit and then cultivate, in four or five years, brilliant students who spent their first 18 or 19 years of life in an average or below average educational environment. Not when the applicant pool includes thousands who have spend all of their young lives striving to exist in an above average educational environment.
Pigheaded engages in an unapologetic defense of her elitest parental choices:
Thanks for showing me the error of my wicked ways, pointing out that by raising my kids in a loving environment, sending them to a great school, spending many hours a week helping with homework, volunteering in their classrooms, etc., I am propagating a profoundly unfair socioeconomic system masquerading as a meritocracy! Shame on me!

But here’s a thought: all parents give their kids the tools they need to succeed in THEIR micro-world. The family of bailbondsmen who got their own reality-tv show last year DO THE SAME THING. Their kids are raised to be comfortable around guns, motorbikes, semi-thuggish behavior and bleached blondes with big hair. They love each other and take care of each other, and they appear to have no desire to ever visit let alone attend a place like Harvard.

Those kids would not survive in my world, and I bet my kids would poorly in theirs. Is America still a meritocracy? I think so, but others might disagree.
GreenwichJ isn’t exactly shockedby Douthat’s relevations about the personality types prevalent among his class at Harvard:
So wealthy, overacheiving teenagers tend not to be very nice? Who’d have thought it. One facet of capitalism is that it often rewards society’s most unpleasant members: the venal, the overweeningly ambitious, the unscrupulous, the benders of rules.Their children inherit these characteristics, as well as a degree of wealth they personally have done nothing to acquire. And then they go to Harvard, to be complained about by this Douthat guy.If it’s any consolation, everyone I know who went to Oxford complained about the preponderence of braying, personally unpleasant rich-kids, some of whom had claims to aristocracy, even royalty. All one can do is hope they fail utterly…
Noting the political leanings of the writer, JLF quips: “Isn’t it amusing when a young conservative discovers another thing that Marx got right?” Douthat’s rant seems a bit like knocking oneself off a pedestal: an attempt to disavow the very privilege that confers an aura of public credibility in the first place. What if a Harvard graduate complained, and no one listened? One thing is clear: both the publication of Privilege and the media hoopla surrounding it are part of the same incestuous loop. The book is clearly intended for an audience drawn from the same ranks it is criticizing, while the criticism serves paradoxically to further cement Harvard’s elite status, as if we need only to analyze one institution’s practices for some definitive pronouncement on what is wrong with America and its ruling class. AC4:41pm

Friday, March 11, 2005

The idea that Dali used Picasso’s Cubism to achieve his effects is crazy. No artist had less to do with the fragmentation of pictorial space than Dali. His ancestors were to be found in the many academic painters of the past, whose meticulous brushwork created photorealistic representations of objects, crossed with the dreamlike landscapes of DeChirico, as well as the optical illusions found in puzzle books … Cubism had nothing to do with it… …Even when the images don’t make literal sense, they tend to be Symbolic with a big S, like a sign reading “Flaccid Thingy Up Ahead”. Sometimes they skip the symbolism altogether and just spell it out: “Penis, Vagina, Buttocks, Breasts, Shit” wrapped up in a package of shame and terror. Just in case the viewer doesn’t get the point, Dali might throw in a tiny naked man hanging his head in shame, or call his picture “The Great Masturbator,” or perhaps write an essay describing exactly what the symbols mean. The whole enterprise begs the question, how can a true exploration of the subconscious be undertaken using the most studied, academic techniques? Usually, the answer is, it can’t.

Dali came to realize that far from being derided as old-fashioned hackwork, in an abstract era starved for “realistic pictures”, his academic painting style was celebrated as true mastery, whether he added any “psychological” baggage to it or not. So from the 1940’s on, he didn’t even bother trying to imbue his paintings with meaning or substance…Utek1, here, on Salvador Dali as symbolist.
…Turning back to Lebanon, what has happened is a sudden reversal of power relationships. For years, the decisive force in Lebanon was the Syrian army, and one had to give that devil his due – just as Whalid Jumblatt did. However, Jumblatt had never been a puppet, since he had an independent base of support in the Druze, who generally will follow his lead. Now, it is clear to Jumblatt … that the “Syrian order” is over. Syrian troops may not immediately pull out of Lebanese territory, but they will at some point. Meanwhile, they will not again act to protect their stooges from political events driven by the Lebanese. No one doubts that the West – France, never mind the US – will no longer tolerate Syrian military action and want Syria out. To defy that new reality, the younger Assad would have to be prepared to risk war and the loss of power in Syria.

It’s as simple as that, and Wahlid Jumblatt knows it.Publius, here, on the developments in Lebanon vis-à-vis opposition leader Wahlid Jumblatt.
In a few hundred years they will look back on the American empire as a great irony: A nation formed as a refuge from the theological-political wars of the 16th century itself devolved into theological-political war; because it, like the nations from which it revolted, could not separate theology from politics.

The founding fathers would look on these developments with great sorrow, given that they knew exactly what kind of oppression and near genocide a politics of theology could lead to (30 years war, anyone?), and given that they formed this nation in order to prevent it.

But, I guess as a libertarian, rather than a conservative, I see no reason why the dead should govern the living. So though I too find these developments disturbing, I have no appeal to the founding fathers’ univocal desire to keep the church separate from the state. The real irony then is that conservatives - those who do think the dead should govern the living - also pay no heed to the desires of the founding fathers.matt666, here, on church ‘n’ state.
…What bloggers have that traditional reporters don’t have, or think they don’t have, is the time to place a story in historical context and to follow it beyond the date it runs, and the freedom from the variety of institutional pressures faced by institutional reporters.

Where institutional journalists more accurately portray bloggers, or more specifically, their readers and commenters, is as the mob. All but the most persistent rumors and misapprehensions were once pretty well confined to the locale where they originated; now, they’re circulated instantly, everywhere even if they’re not picked up by bloggers who prefer some sort of substantiation before they post. But even that’s not much of a departure from the practices of institutional journalists. What they pat themselves on the back for is not printing the rumors they circulate among themselves.

Ironically, the affair of Jim Dale Joe Billy Bob Guckert Gannon may do more to legitimate bloggers as journalists than any passel of earnest geeky blog evangelists could. His accreditation by the White House press office opened the door for the media watchers at Fishbowl D.C., and probably had no little impact on the press office’s decision to allow my blog to send representatives to the daily briefings and other White House press events. It won’t be long before the House and Senate galleries, who serve as the de facto arbiters of who’s a journalist and who isn’t, begin credentialing more online sites and blogs.

At this point, what distinguishes journalist-wannabe bloggers from the more commonly recognized thing are resources—cultivated sources, Nexis and morgue access and so on—and money. Most bloggers can’t pay the tab to send someone along with the president on his travels, or to chase leads around the country or to do a touch-and-go landing somehwere so we can run a story with a particular dateline.That’ll begin to change soon too. In fact, on a more local scale, it already has…Betty_the_Crow, here, representing the blogosphere.
…Any disparaging of Dre still must accept one sterling thing. Dre has done what few, if any, people in the hip-hop world have ever done: he came back. I’m not talking about Jay-Z one foot in the door kind of comeback. I’m talking about falling on your face, your sound going out of style, your moment has passed kind of comeback. Aftermath at its inception was a disaster, Dre had cut ties with Suge Knight in an ugly fashion (the only fashion possible with Suge), and Gangsta Rap had faded in the face of Pac and Biggie’s deaths. So let me repeat-you don’t come back in hip-hop. Public Enemy? No. The Beasties? No (Hello Nasty was their last gasp). Ice Cube, not as a rapper. Naughty By Nature? Juvenile? De La Soul has gone back underground, Tribe fell apart (wherefore art thou, Tip?), and Wu-Tang disintegrated. If you leave the building of mainstream rap, don’t expect to be let back in.

But Dre, three years after leaving Death Row, discovered some new talent (Eminem, Xzibit), patched up with some old talent (Snoop -who, at Dre’s side, was the only other comeback kid I can think of Coincidence?), made a whole boat load of catchy beats and rushed right back into the fore with ‘2001’. He hasn’t left since. He’s even brought Gangsta back with him in the form of 50 and The Game. Disparage his music or his methods, but don’t knock the man. Dre is an anomaly in an industry where you’re either in the spotlight or in the past.

Ortho_Stice, here … but don’t call it a comeback.