Archive

  • WATERBOARDING: AS NEW ENGLAND AS YACHTING AND LOBSTER ROLLS!

    WATERBOARDING: AS NEW ENGLAND AS YACHTING AND LOBSTER ROLLS! Jonah should be ashamed himself for posting this "without comment": I was recently reading Richard Norton Smith's biography of Col. Robert McCormick of the Chicago Tribune. It seems that when McCormick was a student at Groton he was subjected to the school tradition of "pumping." In this quaint ritual the initiate had his head held under a pump and water was forced over him until he felt as if he were drowning. Waterboarding isn't torture, its just part of the New England patrician experience. Does this idiot think that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed was undergoing some Groton admissions process? I'm glad to hear he has absolutely no problem with the idea of, say, Iran or North Korea waterboarding captured American soldiers, Marines, airmen, sailors or intelligence operatives. To speak to Ezra 's point, maybe if we had more bluebloods in uniform we could harden our counter-interrogation abilities. -- Spencer Ackerman
  • NANCY.

    NANCY. Kevin Drum , Bob Somerby , and Dana Goldstein all offer good comments on this New York Times profile of Nancy Pelosi . Defending Pelosi against petty or mailcious attacks -- mainly from her right, but also from her left -- used to be a priority of mine before I got too busy, but needless to say the task will become only more necessary (to the extent that I think it remains justified, of course) if the Dems take over the House. I should note that I was surprised to see Dick Armey call himself "a big fan" of hers in the Times piece. At any rate, in the event that she does become Speaker, I certainly hope a right-wing author runs with my Pelosi-related offering in last month's " Spot the Fake Right-Wing Book Title " quiz from the print issue. --Sam Rosenfeld
  • WHO FIGHTS? ...

    WHO FIGHTS? Man, The Corner's really in damage control mode lately. Depending on the day, you'll have dozens of posts on Santorum 's just-around-the-corner comeback, James Webb 's novels, Casey 's corruption, Kerry incorrect wording the astoundingly banal point that Ivy League grads are underrepresented in Iraq, etc. Thankfully, on Tapped , we're still talking about John Kenneth Galbraith -- none of this relevant, topical, "election" stuff. On the Kerry comment , my understanding is that this is a lower-middle class war. After Vietnam, the military began requiring a high school diploma, so you cut out really poor or really uneducated recruits (this always struck me, incidentally, as a bad idea: So long as we're going to have an army, it may as well offer upward mobility and discipline to those who can most use it). Nevertheless, the privileged don't serve. So what you get is a bell curve distribution, shifted a bit to the poorer end of the income scale. Data on this stuff is hard to...
  • TO WREAK HAVOC, KIDNAP.

    TO WREAK HAVOC, KIDNAP. As Spencer notes below , for the past five days, U.S. troops had been encircling Sadr City in order to find a missing soldier they believed was kidnapped by the Mahdi Army, the militia of fiercely anti-American Shi'ite cleric Muqtada Sadr . Sadr denies involvement, but the brother-in-law of the kidnapped soldier says the perpetrators were clearly taking him to Sadr City, the stronghold of, well, Sadr. The U.S. has now lifted the blockade after pressure from Sadr and Prime Minister Maliki , who depends on the former for support. Spencer may be right that there is some "kabuki theater" going on here, but the more straightforward explanation seems more likely to me: the blockade was becoming counterproductive. There was a huge bombing in Sadr City yesterday, and Sadr partisans were quick to point the finger at the Americans for not allowing the Mahdi Army to provide their own security. And of course, people weren't happy that all of the checkpoints surrounding the...
  • PUNITIVE DAMAGES AND...

    PUNITIVE DAMAGES AND LESSONS ABOUT THE COURT . The Supreme Court today will hear oral arguments in Philip Morris USA v. Mayola Williams . The case concerns a $79.5 million punitive damage claim against Phillip Morris that was upheld by the Oregon Supreme Court. (See here and here for more background.) There's a good chance that the Oregon Court's decision will be reversed based on a Kennedy's opinion in State Farm v. Campbell , which discovered a limit against virtually all punitive damages that "awards exceeding a single-digit ratio." Pragmatism is one thing; inventing a right against punitive damage awards that are inconsistent with the Base 10 numbering system (or, in other words, finding a constitutional significance in the number of fingers on the human hand) is quite another. This case should remind us that, despite all of the attention given to hot-button social issues, the courts are also likely to be a major player in the Republican battle to ease restraints against...
  • ENJOY YOUR TWENTIES.

    ENJOY YOUR TWENTIES. All right, we all know the stakes in the upcomings. But, Lord above, if this thing doesn't swing the election to the Democratic party, nothing will. Just a note to the people engaged in yesterday's Are Evangelicals Really Worth Saving? discussion -- this kind of idiocy is why the "suckers-or-true believers" debate is nothing more than an academic exercise. No matter how sincerely people adhere to this stuff, handing any part of a secular government over to it is always a bad idea. That strange whirring noise you're hearing is Barry Goldwater going at 78 rpm underground. The Republican Party -- Hating Sex Since The Last Time We All Got Drunk. --Charles P. Pierce
  • JUST POSTED ON...

    JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE. Some book review goodness on the site today. Eric Rauchway reviews two new historical works recounting the eclipse of Reconstruction and the Redemption of white rule in the South -- achieved both through terrorism and northern political capitulation. Meanwhile, Matt offers his take on Andrew Sullvan 's new tome, The Conservative Soul : ...Though billed as "one of today's most provocative social and political commentators" on his book jacket, Sullivan's substantive views are almost frighteningly banal. Far from "bold and provocative," Sullivan offers up an unusually colorful expression of what is, in fact, the bland conventional wisdom of the Anglo-American elite. In foreign affairs he's hawkish, chastened by Iraq but not so chastened as to revisit any of the empirical or theoretical premises that led America into its current quagmire. In economics, he's disdainful of European social democracy, a supporter of balanced budgets and sound money while dismissive...
  • GALBRAITH. It's...

    GALBRAITH. It's not the biggest deal in the world, but I'm a little disturbed that neither Robert Rubin, Peter Orszag , or Jon Chait appeared to know where John Kenneth Galbraith 's concept of Countervailing Powers comes from. Rubin appears to think it's from a book called Countervailing Powers , which doesn't exist. No one else even heralds a guess. The actual book is American Capitalism , the first in Galbraith's famous trilogy on the American economy (the other two, in order, were The Affluent Society and The New Industrial State .) As I said, not the biggest deal in the world, but here you have two top Democratic economists and a top liberal policy wonk, and none of them seem particularly familiar with (arguably) the greatest Democratic economic thinker of the past century*. On the bright side, the three do seem to understand -- and this is a particularly wrenching realization for Rubin -- that Galbraith's ideas are absolutely critical in the current moment. I'm often stung by how...
  • RIGHT UP TO YOUR FACE AND DIS YOU.

    RIGHT UP TO YOUR FACE AND DIS YOU. National security adviser Steve Hadley is in Iraq today to deliver a message to the disobedient administration of PM Nouri al-Maliki : He wishes "to reinforce some of the things you have heard from our president." That being, in general, "Can't you just do as we say? You know, be a 'leader'? Disband the militias? Secure the country? Let us get some soldiers home, or at least announce something by, say, November 6?" Maliki opted instead to do the expected thing: Force the U.S. to end its five-day siege of Sadr City , the Baghdad stronghold of Maliki ally and U.S. enemy Moqtada al-Sadr. In times past -- those halcyon days of ex-premiers Iyad Allawi and Ibrahim Jaafari -- there was a temptation to say that the U.S. was ginning up crises in order to have the Iraqi leader demonstrate his independence from America and thereby win some hearts and minds. This, however, is much different: the Bush administration, after investing much desperation-slash-hope in...
  • MORE ON RELIGIOUS VOTERS.

    MORE ON RELIGIOUS VOTERS. Amy Sullivan and Addie Stan know more about the religion issue than I do, so I�d like to get their opinions on the risks of going for the evangelical vote -- it strikes me that even the smartest, most heartfelt attempts to lure evangelicals away from the GOP to the Democrats are not without risks. First, it will be hard and rather costly to try to break them away. In 2000, Southern Baptists voted 88 percent against the Southern Baptist candidate, Al Gore . That doesn't strike me as attributable to Gore�s lack of religious identity or facility in talking about his faith. Too many religious conservatives have simply made firm partisan commitments, and any counter-arguments or cross-talk from Democrats and liberals will only alter this at the margins. Sure, stock market fortunes and elections are often won at the margins. But will the cost of trying to make slight gains among evangelicals be worth the losses? The problem with outreach to any group of unlikely-to...

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