OVERBLOWN.David A. Bellwishes more people were discussing and debating John Mueller's new book Overblown, which makes the strong case against considering terrorism a genuinely dire, let alone existential, threat to the United States; I share Bell's wish. Mueller's argument is basically off-message for just about everybody, but has always stuck me as a truly useful contribution to debates over terrorism and American policy.
SPEAKER PELOSI. Now that Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyerhave gone into overdrive to patch things up and get the caucus unified after last week's fight, we've been reminded that the key challenge of Pelosi's leadership is likely going to be less intra-leadership squabbling with the majority leader than handling the disparate strategic and substantive priorities of the committee chairs.
THE GENIUS. Sometimes, what with General Nuisance back in the saddle again, and Richard Cohen's apparently mistaking the 101st Airborne for a heating pad. (Note: I'm thinking that the word "therapeutic" is just going to lay there like rotting roadkill on the ol' career path for quite some time), I despair of the world. And then something like this happens, and all is right with the world again.
CONCESSIONS. Two Democratic House challengers that had been holding out with razor-thin electoral deficits finally conceded defeat after further ballot counting yesterday. Patricia Madrid lost to incumbent Heather Wilson in New Mexico, Victoria Wulsin to Mean Jean Schmidt in Ohio. The open-seat race in Katherine Harris's district (FL-13), meanwhile, has the Republican up by 369 but is headed to the courts. As subscription-only CQ reports:
Serious newspapers try to separate their editorial pages and their news reporting, but not the Washington Post. As regular Post readers know, the editors desperately want to cut and/or privatize Social Security. The program's overwhleming popularity, coupled with the fact that the Congresssional Budget Office's projections show Social Security to be fully solvent for the next 40 years, with no changes whatsoever, makes the Post's position difficult to sell. So, the Post never misses an opporttunity to try to impugn the financial health of the porgram.
I know that I shouldn't waste time beating up on Thomas Friedman, but hey, it's fun. Today he is back in classic Thomas Friedman form, drafting the memo (Times select) that Nancy Pelosi should send to China's President Hu Jintao.
Speaker Pelosi's memo begins with some incoherent commitments on energy efficiency: "First, China has committed to a 20 percent reduction in energy consumption for every 1 percent of G.D.P. growth by 2010." This one requires a very big "huh?"
NOT THAT THERE'S ANYTHING WRONG WITH THAT. You go, Garance. That "maidenly vapors" line surely got my back up. Brother Pierce apparently fails to see a connection between expressions of hatred toward women and violence against women. Perhaps an intervention is in order. I do, however, second the sentiments of Brother Pierce on the Seinfeld phenomenon and the fallout from the Michael Richards racist rant. Call me a delicate flower, but I never got into Seinfeld because it was just too mean.
WHAT HE SAID.Josh Marshall is quite right to worry about the Democrats' out-of-the-gate agenda. While the military questions Barney Frank and Charles Rangel want to raise (about gays in the military and whether there ought to be a draft, respectively) are important ones, it is difficult to imagine any two issues more guaranteed to shift the national focus away from Republican mismanagement of the reconstruction of Iraq and how to get America out of a civil war zone and onto what will be framed as Democratic culture war fights.
UM, EW. I have to say, reading Charlie Pierce's commentary below on a progressive web site is the kind of thing that really makes me wonder about the left today. So Michael Richards's reprehensible and hate-filled rant was the expression of a condemnable authentic Seinfeldian Id, which was hateful in any event because if was a milquetoast alternative to Sam Kinison?