FROM THE DECEMBER PRINT ISSUE: A LIBERAL MANIFESTO. Recently, Tony Judt wrote a piece for the London Review of Books entitled "Bush's Useful Idiots," which charged American liberals -- not "some" or "too many" American liberals, simply "American liberals" -- with "acquiesc[ing] in President Bush's catastrophic foreign policy." The essay caused a big stir -- and made Todd Gitlin and Bruce Ackerman a bit mad.
RACE MATTERS.Joe Klein's recent mash note to Barack Obama, which Charlie Pierce talks about here, contains some interesting (if banal) reflections on the problems faced by black Democrats. Either they can seek to appeal to other African-Americans, thus jacking up turnout but confining them to majority African-American districts, or they can move towards white voters, which will depress turnout among liberals and blacks. It ain't easy.
CONSPIRACY.Ezra had an interesting post over at his place the other day about the problematic relationship between Serious People and what they dismiss as conspiracy theories. He then thanks someone for passing along the details of the MK-Ultra fiasco. (By the way, according to recent reports, everything old is new again.) It's all a matter of perspective, really, even for those of us who've had a sweet-tooth for American political paranoia most of our lives.
CONSPICUOUSLY ABSENT. Not for nothing, Senator Obama, but you should probably run for cover. Joe Kleinmay be about to subject you to one of his big old man-crushes. This can't be easy for Joe. After all, the last one of these he had was on that smiling hunk o' red-hot centrism from the Ozarks who ultimately threw him over for Sidney Blumenthal and then a chubby staffer. So it's understandable that Joe would be proceeding cautiously here. Once burned and all.
GETTING OUT OF IRAQ. Nearly everyone except Billy Kristol and John McCain agrees that the U.S. needs to reduce its presence in Iraq. Even George Bush has made "as the Iraqis stand up, the U.S. will stand down" as the centerpiece of his "strategy." Often, the debate is portrayed as "stay the course" (or the hilarious "adapt to win" spin of RNC hack Ken Mehlman) versus "cut and run" in partisan circles, but the reality is more complex.
WHAT WAS THE VOTE COUNT ON THE FEDERAL MARRIAGE AMENDMENT AGAIN?Ed Morrisseyclaims that attempts to out GOP Senator Larry Craig shows that "Left hates gays." First of all, "a poster at Daily Kos and a gay activist" does not equal "the Left." (I mean, what do Ward Churchill and the immortal Some Guy With A Sign Somewhere have to say?) But more importantly, whether it's right or wrong the idea that outing someone reflects "hatred" for gay people
ISLAMISTS ON THE MARCH?Marc Lynch has a new post up about the 2007 Jordanian parliamentary elections on his excellent new group blog, Qahwa Sada ("black coffee" in Arabic). The fear in the Hashemite Kingdom and in Washington, following the success of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Hamas in Palestine, is that Jordanian Islamists will make big gains. They are represented primarily by the Islamic Action Front, the political arm of the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood, which is legal in Jordan but not in Egypt.
The Washington Post reports on France's pro-family policies which it tells us are proving effective in combatting the "threat of zero population growth." While I am big fan of policies that lessen the burden on families raising young children, no one is ever going to scare me with the threat of zero or even negative population growth.
Economists know about the concept of productivity growth. Respectable rates of productivity growth easily offset the impact that a rising ratio of elderly dependents can have on living standards, as simple arithmetic shows.