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?
WINNING BY LOSING.Ezra's fine article in the print edition reminds us that the Republican approach to policy was not just to pass what they thought were good ideas, but to use policy to disembowel their enemies. He does a fine job of identifying some strategies that are not only good policy, but would help break down the right-wing power structure.
MORE ALTMAN. Since I'm having such a good day with pop culture, I figure I'll keep at it. For those of us who went to a lot of movies in the 1970's, the arrival of a new Robert Altman was Christmas morning. Now that he's passed away, there are going to be a lot of justifiable tributes to Nashville and to M*A*S*H, a movie as thoroughly trivialized by its TV version as any movie ever was. But my heart still stays with McCabe and Mrs. Miller, a purely revisionist Western, and everything everyone thought Clint Eastwood had done with Unforgiven, but a lot funnier and a damn sight more quirky.
ROBERT ALTMAN. I was lucky enough to see a beautiful 35mm restoration of La Regle Du Jeu last week. The most obvious modern inheritor of the "open" filmmaking style invented by Renoir, Robert Altman, has died.
SUPERPOWER SELF-ESTEEM. As Kevin Drumpoints out, the Iraqi people overwhelmingly want us to leave. They do not believe our presence stabilizes or protects and, as a result, they support attacks on our troops. All the better to get us the hell out.
The question, of course, is why we don't. What's the compelling national interest in occupying a country that deplores our presence? That murders our soldiers? That depletes our treasury? That shows no sign, hint, or hope of molding itself to our desires?
EMINENT DOMAIN.The New York Times has an explosive story on its front page this morning:
JERUSALEM, Nov. 20 � An Israeli advocacy group, using maps and figures leaked from inside the government, says that 39 percent of the land held by Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank is privately owned by Palestinians.
Israel has long asserted that it fully respects Palestinian private property in the West Bank and only takes land there legally or, for security reasons, temporarily.