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  • THE QUEEN RANIA...

    THE QUEEN RANIA FACTOR. I was in Whole Foods the other day, like a good out-of-touch elitist, shopping for cheese, and at the checkout stand I saw a glamour shot of Queen Rania of Jordan on the cover of Washington Life magazine. I have to say that I've long been bugged by Western elites' fascination with this particular queen. Here she is hanging out with Bill Clinton , Bill Gates , and George Soros . And here she is with Laura Bush . Here she's written up in Hello magazine. She's a bipartisanly loved celebrity -- everyone thinks she's great! And she certainly is good looking and appears to be involved in some worthwhile charitable endeavors. But here's the thing. As you'll recall, pretty much everyone nowadays is in some sense interested in promoting democratic reform in the Arab world. And Queen Rania isn't a fun cosmetic constitutional monarch like you have in England or Spain. She and her husband are actually existing despots who make their living exploiting the productive members...
  • LARRY AND ME....

    LARRY AND ME. As my time guest-blogging at TAP begins to draw to a close and as someone who�s had a fair amount of attention in the blogosphere lately, I want to say that the level of the comments here is pretty impressive. Now it would not be hard to be more rational and literate than much of what goes on amongst the mommy-bloggers (see the recent eruption of �Linda! Vomit!� on the ABC news website after I appeared in the second hour of Good Morning America yesterday to suggest that people might want to read my new book ). But evidence of the occasional quality of the commentary here is that one particular comment to my piece on David Brooks � Sunday �eeew, Jane Eyre � column picked something up that no one has noticed, even though it has been in plain view for months. That is, much of what I say on behalf of working women and much of what Harvard ex-President Larry Summers says sound the same. As the commenter cleverly laid it out : Feminist Linda Hirshman, in TAP: "Even the most...
  • WORDS TO LIVE...

    WORDS TO LIVE BY! In case you're wondering why the GOP leadership doesn't spend a lot of time taking advice from libertarian intellectuals, take a gander at William Niskansen 's view that "the House Republicans should split off the minimum wage provision from the appropriation bill, allow a separate floor vote on this provision, and demonstrate the absurdity of this proposal by a defeating this measure by a large margin." Obviously, people disagree on the merits of the minimum wage issue. But nobody can seriously deny that this would be a ridiculous stratagem from the House Republicans to take up. Year after year GOP candidates try as hard as they possibly can to obscure the fact that they want the minimum wage to go down while Democrats want it to go up. And they know what they're doing. Following Niskansen's advice would just make Nancy Pelosi very, very, very happy. --Matthew Yglesias
  • WHO SHOULD YOU...

    WHO SHOULD YOU CHEER FOR? The World Cup's a tough time for wannabe cosmopolitan progressives. We always hear about the Europhiles populating the left, but the truth is, Europhilia requires a bit more than a taste for good cheese and an affection for the welfare state. Indeed, it demands a near encyclopedic knowledge of soccer. And not just teams who've already penetrated the literate lefty's consciousness (I'm looking at you, Barca and Arsenal), but the unknown squads, the local teams, the regional powers. And even that knowledge, once acquired, proves itself rapidly obsolete come World Cup time, as the multinational European outfits disassemble so their players can rejoin their native country's all star teams. So who to root for? Who's good? The latter question is tricky, though Brazil, Germany, Italy, and Argentina are all good answers. But as for who you should cheer for, there's help a-coming. Who Should I Cheer For lets you support soccer the way you support Europe: on...
  • IGNATIUS ON GITMO....

    IGNATIUS ON GITMO. We need some content up here quick, so let me just say that David Ignatius is certainly right about this. It's hard to maintain consistent focus on the Bush administration's bizarre and inhuman passion for degrading the United States' record on core human rights issues, but what they're doing in Guantanamo is an enormous outrage. --Matthew Yglesias
  • EVERYBODY LOVES IRAN....

    EVERYBODY LOVES IRAN. One interesting result of the latest Pew Global Attitudes survey (PDF) is the high level of Muslim support for the Iranian nuclear weapons program. Pluralities in Egypt and Jordan and a majority in Pakistan say they want to see Iran get the Bomb. That's not opposition to American military intervention in Iran, that's people actually favoring Iranian acquisition of nuclear weapons on the merits. Thirty percent of Indonesians and 23 percent of Turks are also on board. I think you're seeing here the poisonous fruits of the "clash of civilizations" dynamic that we've been drifting toward for years now. And suffice it to say that this is very bad news. When people's level of dislike for American hegemony is growing so intense that they start looking on things like Iranian nukes as a positive development, we have a problem. In part, it's a serious problem for our Iran policy. In part, it's a symptom of an underlying issue that's going to create problems for us all over...
  • LESS SUBSTANCE, PLEASE....

    LESS SUBSTANCE, PLEASE. Sigh. From Ana Marie Cox : Considering the lavish party Mark Warner had thrown for them the night before, perhaps bloggers should not be so hasty with accusations of schmooze. Still, schmoozing is basically harmless if it doesn't affect what one writes � and if bloggers are re-inventing the journalist wheel, they're still getting around to that one. At the Q&A Warner held with bloggers after his speech, the questions were respectful and sincere. The first one was about whether Warner was correct in asserting that Iran is a greater threat to our national security than Pakistan. A better question might have been, how valuable is the opinion on such matters when it comes from a one-term governor of Virginia? How could that possibly be a better question? Because it's unanswerable, guaranteed to teach you nothing about the candidate's views or thought processes, and slightly more likely to provoke an embarrassing gaffe or awkward response? So that's how the pros...
  • LABOR 101, PLUS...

    LABOR 101, PLUS SOME EXTRA CREDIT. You owe it to yourself to read Nathan Newman 's inspiring, irresistible " Why Unions? Labor 101 ." Folks here know I'm a health care guy, but one of the reasons why is my belief that among our health system's many destructive tendencies, it's largely helped doom the labor movement. To be fair, the union movement was often complicit, offering insubstantial support to national proposals and preferring to expend resources on improving limited benefits for their direct members. It's a sin they've long since repented for, with yesterday's UAW convention offering only the latest example. All that said, the most demonic, nightmarish vision for anti-union employers is letting a union arise and corner them into so-called "gold plated" health benefits. Given the double-time march of health costs, reasonable contracts negotiated now may prove financially unfeasible twenty years down the road (see the auto industry for an example of that), but an active union...
  • LET'S GET READY...

    LET'S GET READY TO RUMBLE! Slate is hosting a debate between former New Republic Editor-at-Large Peter Beinart and American Prospect Editor -- and advanced, multidimensional life form -- Mike Tomasky on Beinart's new book The Good Fight . Attentive readers will already have read Mike's review of the book, but if not, check it out , then grab your ringside seat to Slate' s prominent pundit thunderdome . --Ezra Klein
  • BORROWED TIME. I'm...

    BORROWED TIME. I'm not going to try and strain to work myself up into a lather of ineffectual indignation about it, but obviously beating a crowd of 200 women's rights protestors in Teheran in loathsome. The article even comes with bonus Islamic Republic weirdness: "Throughout most of the confrontation, female officers beat female protesters and male police beat male protesters there to support the women. Male police generally are not permitted to touch female suspects." What I will observe is that there's clearly a rather large level of political unrest in Iran. I'm not really among those who believe there's very much the American government can do to affect the pace of political change over there. Rather, I think the thing to remember here is that there's no need to get panicky and paranoid about a regime that's clearly living on borrowed time. Even if a U.S.-Iranian diplomatic accord doesn't hold up over the long term, the Iranian regime probably won't either. Meanwhile, a...

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