CRUELTY AND SILENCE.The New Republic fired me before it published its Iraq symposium. Oh well -- it had been made clear to me that I wouldn't have been invited to contribute anyway. So now I take up my new role: foul-weather critic of its latest spineless Iraq editorial. (In TNR-speak, a "lede.")
Yes, that is what the NYT headline said about the 0.2 percent decline in sales reported for October. The consensus forecast was a 0.4 percent decline. Of course, September sales were revised down from a drop of 0.4 perrcent to a drop of 0.8 percent. This means that October sales were 0.2 percent below the consensus forecast. This is beating expectations?
A DISAPPOINTING START.Joe Conason is right: The race between Murtha and Hoyer present two astonishingly unappealing options. Murtha is hawkish, corrupt, conservative, and a dear friend to the defense industry -- year after year, he's the top congressional recipient of their donations, and he repays them in full. His brave comments on Iraq were aberrational rather than characteristic, and his emergence as the progressive choice is evidence of some very short Democratic memories. Hoyer, however, is fetishistically centrist, corporatist, and at odds with Pelosi.
HEATH SHULER: ACTUALLY A DEMOCRAT. As the invocations keep coming, I rise to defend Congressman-elect Heath Shuler, who must be getting damned sick and tired of having his marvelous underdog win characterized by the side that got skunked last week as a de facto win for its principles, and even by his own, winning side as a shrewd tactical abandonment of its own. Here's a very good local account of Shuler's win. Shuler didn't win because he was slightly less conservative than Charles Taylor, the Republican he whacked. He won because the party Mr.
THE POPULIST.Jim Webb's Wall Street Journalop-ed today is a full-throated blast of up-with-the-people populism. He spends four paragraphs fiercely decrying "our society's steady drift toward a class-based system," attacking out-of-control CEO pay and decrying the middle class squeeze. But the really fascinating bit comes when he settles into the fight and picks his targets.
YOO TWO: IN THE NAME OF LOVE. The ACLU is trying to get its hands on something we lowly national-security reporters have tried for years to obtain. That's something known colloquially as Yoo Two -- Yoo as in John Yoo, the torturer from the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel in the first Bush administration. And Two as in a second memo in or around August of 2002 about torture.
SHALL WE DANCE? Well, since the Dems waltzed into the House and did an elaborate tango into the Senate, I confess I find myself a bit shamefaced for having doubted their ability to take the lower chamber. But now, a week later, I'm ready to put all that behind me to focus on the the intramural dramas now gripping both political parties.
A pal at the blog Blue Jersey who goes by the handle JRBpoints up a charming irony in the choice of Senator Mel Martinez of Florida to chair the Republican National Committee.
STALKING.Lastmonth, a Chinese Song class diesel electric submarine approached, apparently undetected, to within 5 nautical miles of the USS Kitty Hawk, well within both missile and torpedo range. The submarine then surfaced, and was reported by a recon aircraft. What's going on here?