Archive

  • TOUGH NUT TO CRACK.

    TOUGH NUT TO CRACK. As Harold points out , the dawning realization on the part of the right that Iraq is facing a civil war puts enormous strain on the administration's justifications for U.S. policy there. A new National Review editorial provides an example of the kind of anguish and addled prescriptions that emerge when conservatives try to square the circle of remaining committed to the American occupation and the administration's war aims while also grappling with the reality of an Iraqi civil war in which we have no interest in picking a side: If the administration isn�t going to send more troops to Iraq, there are other things that can be done. Resources should be poured into improving the interior ministry and its forces, which have been infiltrated by the killers preying on Baghdad�s Sunnis. American advisers should be embedded with interior forces as they have been with the much more professional defense forces. We will have to confront the Shiite militias, although with some...
  • BRITISH AIRPLANE PLOT.

    BRITISH AIRPLANE PLOT. Breaking news isn't the political blogosphere's strong suit, but suffice it to say we have noticed the plot to blow up airplanes that the British government says it foiled. I'm sure at some point more information will come out that I might have opinions on, but at the moment there's not much to work with. Jim Henley notes that the never-made-sense "flypaper theory" of the Iraq War makes less sense than ever now. --Matthew Yglesias
  • TERRORISM TAKES BACK...

    TERRORISM TAKES BACK SEAT TO CRONYISM. With today's word of an apparently foiled plan for a massive, mid-air terrorism plot against airliners heading to the United States from Britain, I find myself trembling with fear at the fact that Michael Chertoff -- who proved his callous ineptitude during Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath -- is the guy charged with protecting you and me from the likes of al Qaeda. The only possible explanation for Chertoff's continuing tenure as secretary of Homeland Security is his ability to keep the contracts flowing to Bush pals (even those known to have soaked the taxpayers) and away from local economies. Today the Washington Post 's Griff Witte and Spencer Hsu report on new FEMA contracts won via a bidding process by Bechtel, CH2M Hill Cos., Fluor Corp. and Shaw Group Inc. -- the same four companies awarded controversial no-bid contracts for Hurricane Katrina clean-up and the provision of trailers to those left homeless by the storm. The trailer...
  • JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: PATRON STATE.

    JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: PATRON STATE. Josh Kurlantzick points to a player to watch in Cuba, looking forward: China. With Fidel Castro ailing and his brother Raul stepping up to take the reins of the Cuban regime, Beijing's influence in the country will likely grow. --The Editors
  • WHAT CENTER?

    WHAT CENTER? Jon Chait has some issues with David Brooks � column advocating a McCain - Lieberman party of the center ( Unity '08 , anyone?) -- I have some problems of my own. Namely, on national security issues what's centrist about this party? Are there any Republicans whose national security views are clearly more hawkish than McCain's? I can't think of any. For that matter, are there any Republicans whose national security views are clearly more hawkish than Lieberman's? I can't think of any either. Of the politicians who seem to have clear convictions on the topic, these are, I think, the two leading militarists in the United States Senate. The only way you can get McCain-Lieberman as representing a "center" position on foreign policy is if you define the extreme conceptual right-wing pole as "whatever George W. Bush happens to think,� making any criticism of his policies a move to the left. In practice, however, both men's difference with Bush almost exclusively amount to the (...
  • KEVIN'S LAW.

    KEVIN'S LAW. Kevin Drum proposes a new principle of net-based discourse: "If you're forced to rely on random blog commenters to make a point about the prevalence of some form or another of disagreeable behavior, you've pretty much made exactly the opposite point." For illustration, see the peerless K-Lo digging random stuff up off Democratic Underground and the dKos diaries . I'd say if you're looking at a Scoop site, then something that gets promoted to the front page or otherwise featured by the relevant people is fair game, but an open diary section is like a comment thread -- an unfiltered place where anyone can post. Again, if these are the best examples you can find of the behavior you're criticizing, the moral of the story is that the behavior is rare . Keep in mind that there are 300 million people in the United States which ensure you can always find someone saying or doing just about anything. --Matthew Yglesias
  • THE CASE AGAINST THE DLC.

    THE CASE AGAINST THE DLC. Meanwhile, up in America's Dairyland, Senator Russ Feingold has pretty much had it . This is the best argument yet made against the DLC by someone not named David Sirota . (And certainly better than my perennial favorite, "Let's Get The Jaws Of Life And Pry Al From Out Of The Hospitality Suite.") More than anything else, the DLC created a generation of gun-shy Democrats, and that was fine, as long as we could be reasonably confident that the other side would not throw the entire United States government into the monkeyhouse. Confronted with actual existential threats to the progressive tradition, the Democratic Party looked around after Bill Clinton blew town and found that all its shock troops had melted away. (Indeed, Clinton, that priapic dunderhead, owed his survival in office to the steadfast loyalty of people he'd earlier knuckled for cynical political effect.) This is a good, legitimate argument for a political party to have within itself, and perhaps...
  • HAWK REVISIONISM.

    HAWK REVISIONISM. It's pretty disappointing to see the genuinely estimable Thomas Edsall trying to cram the Connecticut primary into a very clich� tale about how Democrats lose elections because primary electorates are "dominated by an upscale, socially (and culturally) liberal elite." For one thing, the image of Joe Lieberman as a scion of working class populism ill-fits his actual political profile. Indeed, as he himself took to emphasizing during the primary, he's generally loyal to all the key planks of the liberal interest group checklist, including, say, support for legal late-term abortions. The issue area where Lieberman is most progressive is the environment where, to his credit, he's done more than most Democrats to try to put global warming on the congressional agenda. Conversely, on economic issues he's a strong supporter of multilateral trade agreements, supported the horrible bankruptcy bill, has backed capital gains tax cuts, etc. All this is more-or-less to be expected...
  • DEPOSITIONLAND.

    DEPOSITIONLAND. Just in case anyone has forgotten, there's still a president of the United States who answers only to the voices in his head. When he looks into a mirror, they tell him he's a king. Two stories in the last couple of weeks -- this one and this one -- evince not only the delusional view of Executive power held by the White House and its pet lawyers, but also a certain unease with what may happen this fall. It is possible -- how likely I will leave to the numbers-crunchers -- that one or both houses of Congress will fall into the hands of the Democrats. Congress might then decide to exercise the constitutional powers of oversight that the Republican majority long ago placed on the back shelf of the hall closet, behind all those copies of the code of congressional ethics that are still in the shrink-wrap. In fact, the rightist political gnomes are already scandalizing the faithful with this ominous possibility. So, in apparent anticipation of the cataclysmic reinvigoration...
  • ON JESSE.

    ON JESSE. When Schmitt says something, one pays attention, so I�m thinking about my lumping Jesse together with Sharpton yesterday. There was a time when I admired Jackson more than possibly anyone else in politics. I was a young man, a little to the left of where I am today. I thought and still think there was a lot to admire in Jackson�s presidential runs, the 1988 one in particular, when he did all that campaigning in Iowa with farmers being foreclosed and so on. Because we had mutual acquaintances in the New York political world, I got to know him just a little, and I was there at the Sheraton Wardman here in town (I think it was a Marriott then) in 1992 when Bill Clinton gave his Sister Souljah speech to the Rainbow Coalition. So I think Jackson�s done a lot of good, and he�s not a huckster in the way Sharpton is (and indeed, the words to describe their relationship are words like �competitive,� �distrustful,� and �suspicious�). However, I do think that the kind of politics of...

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