Archive

  • POSTCARDS FROM MARS....

    POSTCARDS FROM MARS. I was going to call the scenario for Iraq outlined in today's column by David Ignatius a fairy-tale fantasy, but the column does specifically assure me that the bargains he has in mind "are not a fairy-tale fantasy, as some critics argue." So who's right? Well, I am. As my mid-March Iraq column pointed out, one part of the plan is to check the power of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq by taking the Interior Ministry out of its hands. The other part of the plan is to . . . put a SCIRI man in as prime minister. That reporters with enough clout to get Zalmay Khalilzad to return their calls find this credible is a testament to our ambassador's apparently considerable powers of persuasion, but it still doesn't make any sense. For a person to quote a loyal servant of the Saudi Arabian despotism as an authority on (simultaneously!) abstract political morality, how to build a democratic Iraq, and how to advance the American national interest is...
  • CNN VS. TPM....

    CNN VS. TPM. This is really something. First Josh Marshall catches CNN swiping the photo TPM Muckraker posted of Brian Doyle 's mugshot. Seems CNN accidentally left the "TPM" logo in the picture. Then, when TPM called out CNN on it, CNN posted a new version of the picture on their home-page-- apparently scrubbed clean of the logo. But there was just one problem: CNN forgot to clean up the photo on the story's site. TPM called CNN out on that, too. Well now, guess what? CNN has gone back in again and cleaned up the version on the story's site, too. You gotta ask -- wouldn't it have been easier for CNN to just credit the source, rather than keep scrubbing away any and all evidence of where the picture came from? I mean, wouldn't it have taken less effort? This type of thing seems niggling, but it's a big deal for bloggers who are trying to inject reporting into the opinion-dominated medium of blogging. Getting credited by the big news orgs for breaking a story gives bloggers credibility...
  • THE AMERICAN CONSUMER...

    THE AMERICAN CONSUMER IS NOT A GENIUS. Given the sheer variety and innovation Andrew Sullivan exhibits in an average day's adjective choices, there's little doubt that he's a bright guy. But his understanding of health economics could use a little work. Today, he's been purring with pleasure over Mitt Romney 's bill, and doing so for all the wrong reasons : One reason we have a healthcare cost crisis is that the genius of American consumers is kept at arm's length in the healthcare universe. If you establish a base minimum of insurance, subsidize individuals who need financial help, and mandate a universal requirement, you then force everyone to pick and choose from a variety of insurance plans in an insurance "exchange". Inevitably, in such an exchange, you're going to have intermediaries trying to sell various policies, market them, and provide clear consumer advice about what's in them. You get a real market, in other words, where consumers can see trade-offs and make sane...
  • A MORAL IMPERATIVE,...

    A MORAL IMPERATIVE, INDEED. To add to Matt 's point about John Kerry 's op-ed today, I expected that there would be far more interest throughout the liberal blogosphere in the current Los Angeles Times series on wounded soldiers. The series has been extraordinary, a powerful and graphic illustration of Kerry's insistence that keeping the soldiers there without a serious effort to resolve the politics is "immoral." The series is reminiscent of the televised images of Vietnam that eventually eroded public support for that war -- a type of imagery that the Bush administration has largely been successful in suppressing, with its efforts to bar photographs of returning coffins and so on. The liberal web rightly jumped all over Bush and company for those efforts, and so now that more horrifying and unvarnished imagery of the war is getting through -- now that the truth is getting through, in other words -- you'd think more liberal commentators would be all over it. After all, this was a...
  • BETTER THAN KIDDY...

    BETTER THAN KIDDY PORN! This wouldn't be much of a liberal blog if we didn't note the arrest of DHS press secretary Brian Doyle on various child sex and kiddy porn charges. Obviously, if you're looking to stay out of hot water with the law you won't want to be subscribing to any kiddie porn publications -- there's apparently a new crackdown in effect. Save your $19.95 and spend it on an American Prospect subscription instead. --Matthew Yglesias
  • GOOD FOR HIM....

    GOOD FOR HIM. No doubt this is far too late to save his 2008 presidential campaign, but today's op-ed on Iraq from John Kerry is very good. Read it yourself if you want to know the policy details. I especially like that he's tapped into the old-school Kerry and brought a little outrage: "Half of the service members listed on the Vietnam Memorial Wall died after America's leaders knew our strategy would not work. It was immoral then and it would be immoral now to engage in the same delusion." This is true, and most of the establishment pundits and policy types left-of-center in this town don't seem to me to be grappling with it: There's a real moral imperative here. If, as most liberals now believe, the odds of meaningful success in Iraq are tiny, then it's wrong -- seriously, deeply wrong -- to keep our troops their indefinitely and it's wrong -- seriously wrong -- to be nonchalant about the issue. --Matthew Yglesias
  • WHERE'S THE OUTRAGE?...

    WHERE'S THE OUTRAGE? Iraq, health care -- I'll let Matt and Ezra address the "important" issues. Meanwhile, what's with the smear job The New Republic 's latest cover illustration pulls on Anna Nicole Smith ? Noam Scheiber �s actual article is about a go-getter lawyer named Tommy Goldstein and the democratization of Supreme Court litigation in the last few years, but the cover's all about Anna. Not only does she seem to be experiencing a minor wardrobe malfunction, but, in a gratuitous touch, the illustrator has given her the physique she had several years ago during her pre- TRIMSPA days. I understand the homage TNR is aiming for, but still. TAP subscribers rest easy knowing that this publication's periodic Anna Nicole Smith covers are both tasteful and accurate. Unlike fair Smith, alas, we lack the luxury of 90-year-old billionaire sugar daddies and instead must rely on reader generosity for support . --Sam Rosenfeld
  • UHC COMES TO...

    UHC COMES TO MA. We've got a meeting in a few minutes, so I've got to make this quick: Yesterday, Mitt Romney signed a bill bringing universal health care to Massachusetts. The state will now have an individual mandate, subsidization for low-income workers, and a minor penalty against employers who don't offer health benefits. In order to pass the program -- and make no mistake, "solving" a state's health care crisis is an achievement massive enough to anchor his 2008 presidential campaign -- Romney had to negotiate with a Democratic legislature and a powerful, long-standing statewide lobby for universal health coverage. And so he did. This was a compromise bill, not a Republican one. What emerged, while not glorious, is a distinct improvement on the status quo. Single adults making less than $9,500 will receive free care with no deductible, those netting up to 300 percent of the poverty line ($48,000 for a family of three) will be subsidized on a sliding scale, and individuals with...
  • DECK CHAIRS, SHUFFLING,...

    DECK CHAIRS, SHUFFLING, SINKING SHIPS. The latest Iraq policy gambit has the US and UK getting behind efforts to remove Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jafari from office and replace him with someone presumably more congenial to Kurdish and Sunni Arab opinion. As Jim Henley observes this seems to reflect "as much as anything the American obsession with personality over structure. See Hussein, Saddam; Uday-n-Qusay; Baby Sadr; Zarqawi, Abu-Musab al-Zarqawi." I agree. In strictly personal terms, the Iyad Allawi era already was an effort at installing an America-friendly, Sunni-friendly, Kurd-friendly Shiite as leader of Iraq, and as you'll recall it didn't work. The only plausible alternatives to Jafari at this point are members of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, and nothing about SCIRI control of the government will even resolve any of the things that are said to be problematic about Jafari's administration. The West seems to be banking on SCIRI man Adel Abdul Mehdi ,...
  • JUST POSTED ON...

    JUST POSTED ON TAP: �Viva Aplacamiento! Remember when the Spanish �appeased� Islamic terrorists by withdrawing from Iraq? Two years later, they seem to be doing okay, explains Matt . On a completely different subject, subscriptions are still available. It's a sweet deal for a sweet magazine. --The Editors

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