BAD TIMING. Boy, was this the wrong weekend for The New York Times to run that criminally weightless Op-Ed from Mark (Slam Book) Halperin about the essential political genius of the Party of Lincoln. First, there are all those administration loyalists running to the air-sickness bag formerly known as Bob Woodward to vomit back up five years of Kool Aid. (Andy Card? The ultimate, multi-generational Bush family retainer?
�TALENTED FABRICATOR� GHORBANIFAR ENLISTS CHENEY. We knew that Iran Contra arms dealer and info. peddler Manucher Ghorbanifar had managed to meet with Pentagon officials and with Congressman Curt Weldon in his quest to get back on the U.S. payroll as an intelligence asset in the wake of 9/11. We did not know that vice president Dick Cheney was part of the plot. This from Bob Woodward�s State of Denial:
In Iraq, [chief Iraq weapons inspector] David Kay had a call from Scooter Libby.
DOUBLE-EDGED EXECUTIVE. John Quigganmakes a point that should be obvious to conservative supporters of enhanced executive power, especially as regards combatting terrorism:
So, for those who support the bill, it might be useful to consider the standard thought experiment recommended to all who support dictatorial powers for a leader on their own side. Think about what the other side might do with these powers.
HUMAN DIGNITY. Three weeks ago, President Bush pointed out that Article III of the Geneva Conventions prohibits "outrages against human dignity", a term that he found too imprecise to guide detainee policy. As Rodger Payne notes, the Bush administration has felt free to use the term "human dignity" in other contexts without feeling a need for clarification. In the National Security Strategy of the United States, Section IIA:
THE FOLEY WEEKEND. Hard to stay on top of this scandal, but it certainly looks mega-toxic. The FBI's investigating, Nancy Pelosi is calling for a House ethics committee probe that includes "questioning, under oath, the House Republican Leadership," and moreformer pages are beginning to surface with creepy-email tales of their own.
The New York Times had an editorial this morning warning about the dangers of protectionism resulting from the large U.S. trade deficit with China. This should lead to gigantic "huh" from informed readers. The United States already has a wide range of barriers that make it difficult for foreign professionals (doctors, lawyers, accountants, economists etc.) to work in the United States. There is no economic theory that shows great harm from trade barriers on cars and shoes, that doesn't also show great harm from barriers to trade in porfessional services.
Every time his column appears, David Brooks demonstrates that the U.S. economy still offers good-paying jobs for unskilled workers. His Sunday column (sorry, Times Select and therefore non-linkable) is yet another diatribe against Democratic politicians (e.g. Sherrod Brown and Bob Casey) who are opposed to trade and immigration policies that are designed to redistribute income from less-skilled workers to college educated workers and capital. Brooks does the usual routine of contrasting these backward looking nationalists with forward looking internationalists like Hillary Clinton.
The NYT reported today that the German pharmaceutical company Bayer A.G. concealed a study from the F.D.A. that showed a drug used in heart surgery might increase the risks of strokes and death. Of course, economic theory predicts that government granted patent monopolies will create incentives for exactly this sort of behavior.
FRIDAY FIVE O'CLOCK FOLKWAYS. The entire American labor movement has been atremble today, waiting for the National Labor Relations Board to deliver its decisions in the Kentucky River cases -- decisions in which the Board is widely expected to reclassify as many as 8 million workers as management, and hence ineligible to join or belong to unions. The ruling would apply to nurses who schedule shifts or offer training on some new devices, say, to other nurses, perhaps to carpenters who help train apprentices -- you get the picture.
BROWN'S VOTE. Surely Sherrod Brown's vote in favor of the detainee bill was one of the more notably dispiriting to behold this week. As it happens, Jim McNeill has a profile of Brown in the new print issue of the Prospect that sets up his race as the test case for a certain kind of (very Prospecty) political approach -- the bet that amped-up economic populism can trump social and security issues in red states. But certainly this week showed that Brown isn't above casting a compromised vote on a security question if its profile is sufficiently high.