• Brooks Rediscovers Egregiousness

    By Ezra The David Brooks corollary : Because Delta is soon to file for bankruptcy protection, it stands to reason that no airline could possibly be more efficient or profitable and thus all private air carriers should be nationalized. Opponents of this plan must explain how the performance of Delta, a company with multiple highly-detailed plans for long-term profitability, could possibly leave anyone confident in the sustained success of a vigorous and deregulated private sector. Conservatives who think this disaster will set off improvement in the airline industry need to explain how a comprehensive free-market failure is going to restore America's faith in the private sector.
  • The Calmer In Chief

    By Ezra I don't even know what to say about this one: Bush does not appear to tap sources deep inside his government for information, the way his father or Bill Clinton did, preferring to get reports through channels. A highly screened information chain is fine when everything is going well, but in a crisis it can hinder. Louisiana officials say it took hours for Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco to reach Bush (although when she did, he talked to her soothingly, according to White House officials). So White House officials thought it important to note that when the hysterical, emotional woman finally reached her emotionally distant president, he had the presence of mind to speak in "soothing" tones to her. Whew. I'm so glad that though FEMA fumbled and the National Guard was indisposed and Michael Chertoff was asleep on the job, Bush was in full control of his vocal modulation, and able to effectively deploy it against Mrs. Blanco's overwrought screeching.
  • Slashing America's Tires

    By Ezra Matt's post on asymmetric warfare in Iraq should really be read, maybe not so much by all of you, but by any strong supporters of the war who happen along this site. I'm not entirely sure why this is, but the knowledge that the insurgency fights differently has not quite connected to the idea that we're not fighting well, that our tactics need to change, that this is a fight we can't militarily win. Asymmetric warfare, for those who don't know, is a military term for conflicts in which the antagonists have hugely mismatched combat capabilities. Therefore, the whole game of it, particularly for the weaker belligerent, is to not have their weaknesses match up with our strengths. That would be symmetrical warfare and they'd be crushed. That's what the insurgency isn't doing and it's why, when we try and fight them, as with the invasion of Baghdad, the overrun of Fallujah, or the assault on Tal Afar, they "melt away", refusing to fight and instead regrouping to hit later. Think of...
  • A Whole Deck of Race Cards

    So long as we're talking about race and Katrina, Leonce Gaiter sent me a piece he wrote on the subject that's well worth a read. Take a look .
  • How It Is

    By Ezra Nobody's going to like me for saying this, but Michael Froomkin is 200% correct here : The Bush administration has an admirable record of appointing African-Americans to top posts. And despite the occasional strange incident, I don't think it is a racist administration. Rather, it's thoroughly classist. Kleptocratic even. For as far as I can tell, what George Bush -- and his team -- don't care about is poor people. All poor people. No sympathy (in the sense of a sympathetic or shared understanding) at all. The one thing to remember, though, is that Bush is happy to exploit racism in favor of kleptocratic ends. He didn't, for instance, run for president to screw over black people, but he did win the South Carolina primary by embracing Bob Jones U., home of the nation's most racially regressive dating policies. Intentions-wise, it's not quite the same, but it ends up looking awfully similar. Nevertheless, when you evaluate Bush, it's helpful not to mix up his opportunism with...
  • When Life Gives You Lemons, Throw Them at Republicans

    Neil the Ethical Werewolf Shakes and Ezra are talking about impeachment, and there are a couple things I'd like liberals thinking in this vein to keep in mind. The first is that Bush has only 3 1/2 years left as an elected official. Certainly, there are benefits to damaging him personally, especially insofar as this makes it hard for him to enact the right-wing agenda over the next 40+ months. But the causes we care about will reap much more benefit from long-term damage to voter perceptions of the Republican party than from damage to Bush's personal reputation. Those two things are definitely linked, but right now the biggest focus shouldn't be on going after Bush himself, it should be about eroding positive stereotypes of Republicans and deepening negative ones. For example, the point needs to be made that Republicans aren't interested in fiscal responsibility or cutting spending -- really, they just want to borrow lots of money and hand it over to big corporations. That's a fiscal...
  • Impeachment?

    By Ezra I would say, in response to Shakes and for those attracted to the impeachment idea, that even if we did get there, we'd be left with President Cheney, which is potentially less palatable than Bush. (As an aside, I always thought the Cheney selection was very good as a survival strategy. Anyone who'd possibly be interested in assassinating George would be horrified at the thought of installing Dick. Cheney, then, is life insurance for Bush. But I digress.) But ignoring that for a moment, I still think it a bad idea, and we need only look at the Clinton template to see why. One thing to remember about the Republican attempt to impeach Clinton is that, annoying as it was, it failed utterly. The impeachment overreach destroyed Newt Gingrich's career and handed the Republicans the worst elections results for an opposition party since Johnson crushed Goldwater in 1964. Think about that -- getting so close to destroying the President ended with Republicans getting the worst whupping...
  • Hair Like That Cannot Lose

    By Ezra For those interested in events beyond our own borders, the Washington Post has an interesting article on Junichiro Koizumi, Japan's Prime Minister, who recently dissolved his own party to eject the hardliners and has embarked on an ambitious -- to say the least -- program of privatizing most everything in Japan, starting with the Postal Service, which, through some mechanism I don't understand, seems to act as the nation's largest bank. And then he had breakfast. No, not really. Koizumi doesn't eat breakfast. He's too sweet for breakfast. In any case, the clash is hurtling towards a vote this weekend, which'll either send Koizumi to the unemployment line or leave him leader of a wholly reworked party. Impressive stuff. In addition, he's been sending "assassin" candidates against his enemies -- female celebrities, corporate raiders, and other attention-getting asskickers. It's political theatre on a pretty grand scale, albeit political theatre that I don't quite understand. So...
  • Question: How Tough Should Dems Get?

    Shakes here... Regarding Ezra’s post yesterday on the increasingly appalling poll numbers Bush is getting these days, and the quite evident widespread dissatisfaction with his performance, I’ve noticed that the words resignation , impeachment , and recall are starting to pop up more and more frequently. Brad DeLong has started ending many of his posts with “Impeach George W. Bush. Impeach him now.” Last night, Bill Maher suggested a “California-style” recall election. ChrisJ at MyDD posted an open letter to the president, asking for not only his resignation for “gross incompetence, negligence, lack of compassion and demonstrable policy failure,” but also those of Cheney, Rice, Chertoff, and Brown. And there are plenty of rumblings elsewhere—some half-humorous, and some deadly serious.
  • Royal Family, Part I: The Brits

    By Pepper Americans, particularly the middle classes, have always had a certain fondness for British royalty. We love them so much that we put them on our magazine covers, celebrate their second marriages on the cable-news channels, and worry about the state of society if they dress in offensive costumes. We love Diana so much that Houston has devoted an entire exhibit to her - at their Museum of Natural Science . We love the royals so much that some Americans felt we had to have a royal family of our own. And we've got one - right down to a president who has ears exactly like Charles'. (Wondering why we let this happen after the jump ...)