Archive

  • YOU COULD HAVE...

    YOU COULD HAVE IT SO MUCH BETTER. My colleague Harold Meyerson has analogized the current Mideast crisis to the crisis set off by the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in late June 1914: "Nobody wanted global conflagration, yet nobody knew how to stop it, and the American president (Woodrow Wilson, who was not yet a Wilsonian) did nothing to help avert the coming war." Rich Lowry retorts "that this significantly underestimates Germany's drive to war." He quotes from Michael Lind 's The American Way of Strategy : For half a century after 1914, most historians agreed that the great powers of Europe tragically had stumbled into an avoidable war. However, research in Imperial German archives in the 1960s revealed the truth: the Kaiserreich had deliberately launched a preventative war against Russia and its ally France, out of fear that growing Russian military power would soon make German dreams of European domination impossible to realize. I think that's right. And I also think...
  • COUNTDOWN TO CONSTITUTIONAL...

    COUNTDOWN TO CONSTITUTIONAL MELTDOWN. It's hard to avoid the temptation to begin counting the days in which H. Marshall Jarrett , director of the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) , manages to remain in that post, especially since his objections to administration intervention in an inquiry he was conducting were made public earlier this week. OPR is the internal affairs office of the Department of Justice (DoJ). Testifying on Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales acknowledged that President Bush himself, in what the Washington Post 's Dan Eggen called "an unprecedented White House intervention" into an OPR investigation, thwarted an inquiry into the role "Justice Department officials played in authorizing and monitoring the controversial [National Security Agency (NSA)] eavesdropping effort, according to officials and government documents." The White House did so by denying security clearances to the OPR...
  • JUST POSTED ON...

    JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: I LOVE THE '90s. Greg Anrig liked Robert Wright 's concept of "progressive realism" as a foreign policy doctrine, and thinks it would be a useful rubric to apply to domestic policy as well. He makes the case for reviving a Clintonian appeal based on effective government after six years of conservative failure. --The Editors
  • REPUBLICANS AND CIVILIAN...

    REPUBLICANS AND CIVILIAN DEATHS. Here's the roll call for today's House resolution on the Mideast crisis. What Israel lobby? Snark aside, despite the monolithic quality of the final vote there actually does appear to have been a bit of behind-the-scenes wrangling over some of the language in this resolution. At her weekly press conference today Nancy Pelosi was asked why she removed her name as co-sponsor of the resolution: Pelosi: Well, last week when we met at this very time, before I came into this room, I had sent back my message to the Majority Leader that I fully supported the resolution that was sent over to us and that I would be willing to be a co-sponsor with him of it. The conversations I had with the International Relations Committee, with Mr. Lantos and his conversations with Mr. Hyde, were such that we thought this was all systems go; and I thought maybe we would take it up last Thursday. Then all of a sudden, the Republican leadership started to slow dance this, saying...
  • JUST POSTED ONLINE:...

    JUST POSTED ONLINE: POWER PLOY. To continue with the theme of the day , Marc Lynch of Abu Aardvark fame explains why pro-American Arab regimes are criticizing Hezbollah and Iran in such an explict and public fashion during this crisis. (Hint: shockingly, it's not because they're expressing the sentiments of their citizens.) The much-hyped communal dimension (Sunni-Shia) is probably a red herring, though. Arab arguments about Lebanon today fall along regime-popular conflicts rather than Sunni-Shia. Despite the sharp Sunni-Shia clashes in Iraq, and the anti-Iranian rhetoric coming out of Arab capitals, the appeal to the wider Arab public of the Shia Hezbollah movement seems to have only increased. Egypt�s very Sunni Muslim Brotherhood has strongly backed Hezbollah, while al-Jazeera (often described by disaffected Iraqi Shia as a �Sunni network�) has given largely sympathetic coverage. ...[T]these three regimes evidently see this crisis as an opportunity to demonstrate their value to the...
  • WHAT'S WRONG WITH...

    WHAT'S WRONG WITH SAMUELSON. To add to Tom 's more ideological critique of Robert Samuelson 's latest column, let me just point out that this is an excellent example of what irritates me about Samuelson: He's a policy writer who doesn't appear to know very much about policy. The whole column is about our lower-than-expected deficits and how stinky Republicans are for celebrating it. At no time does Samuelson see fit to mention why we have lower-than-expected deficits. Indeed, in no place does he signal that he even knows. And that's the problem. As anyone who cracked open Monday's Wall Street Journal knew, and as I explained here , the deficits were not -- despite Republican boasts, which Samuelson quotes -- healed by growth stemming from the tax cuts. Growth was precisely in line with expectations, but it was so localized to the rich that an unexpectedly large portion of the actual money generated went to the wealthy, and since they have higher tax brackets than the middle class, the...
  • TWO CHEERS FOR...

    TWO CHEERS FOR THE ALL-POWERFUL STATE. Some may disagree, but I say liberals should probably celebrate today's ruling that the Employment Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) supersedes the Maryland law forcing Wal-Mart to pay into a health fund. ERISA allows for uniformity across a single company's nationwide benefit plans so employers don't have to face down new regulations in every state. The Wal-Mart bill, according to the court, violated that legislative intent. By contrast, the judge wrote that something like the Massachusetts reforms do not, because they were an example of "states [performing] their traditional role of serving as laboratories for experiment in controlling the costs and increasing the quality of health care for all citizens," and were not, in intent, clear violations of ERISA. So why should liberals rejoice? Well, though a piece of friendly legislation was knocked down, the active principle behind the court's ruling is a supportable one. If states were able to...
  • "SPECTACULAR CHALLENGE," VAGUE...

    "SPECTACULAR CHALLENGE," VAGUE SOLUTION. Okay. I don't really want to revisit the mean-spirited blog-feuds of yesteryear. Nevertheless, I've read The New Republic 's editorial on the Israel/Lebanon/Syria/Iran situation , and I don't understand what it's trying to say about American policy: The ascendancy of Ahmadinejad's perfidious Iran is a spectacular problem for the United States, and a spectacular challenge. Iran is now the single most powerful force arrayed against American ideals and interests in the Middle East. The various Islamist movements pose various threats; but here is Islamism incarnated in a large and ambitious state. For this reason, U.S. policy toward Iran must consist of more than an attempt to frustrate its nuclear designs. If we do not isolate Iran regionally and globally, if we do not do everything we can to support the democratizing forces in Iran, and of course if we do not move ruthlessly to prevent Iran from acquiring the deadliest arsenal of all, then we...
  • CONVENIENT EXPLANATIONS. ...

    CONVENIENT EXPLANATIONS. Has Bob Samuelson been asleep the past five years? In his column today , Samuelson puzzles at the fact that the Bush administration is "shamefully" (a) claiming that this year�s $296 billion deficit is an achievement; and (b) attributing said "achievement" to Bush �s tax cuts, and celebrating accordingly. For Samuelson and others who may need a refresher course, there are two guiding principles of Bush-era public policy. First, invert the usual policy process by identifying the solution or answer you prefer, then shop around for a problem or question to fit it. Record surpluses? Time to cut taxes. Impending recession? Tax cuts are the answer. Cat stuck in tree? You guessed it: tax cuts. Second, no matter the result, claim not merely success, but success attributable to the pre-ordained solution. Libya has come to the table? The Iraq invasion is a success! Rising violence in Baghdad? The dead-enders in their last throes know the invasion was a success! The Sox...
  • IRANIAN OPPOSITION ACTIVISTS...

    IRANIAN OPPOSITION ACTIVISTS SPURN INVITATION TO WHITE HOUSE. Leading Iranian dissident Akbar Ganji is sitting on something many people would only dream of: a personal invitation to the White House today to meet with top U.S. officials overseeing the United States policy toward Iran, including the National Security Council�s Elliot Abrams and State Department�s Iran nuclear negotiator Nicholas Burns . It's even been dangled before him that President Bush may drop by the afternoon meeting of Iranian opposition activists. But Iran's most famous former political prisoner, who arrived in Washington earlier this week for a month long U.S. tour after six years in Iranian prison says, while tempted, he's not going to accept the invitation. And he�s not the only Iranian pro-democracy activist choosing not to go: among the others are former Iranian Revolutionary Guard founder-turned-dissident Mohsen Sazegara ; student leaders Akbar Atri and Ali Afshary ; Iranian American human rights activist...

Pages