Archive

  • WHY ARE WE LISTENING TO THIS MAN?

    WHY ARE WE LISTENING TO THIS MAN? In pointing us to this remarkable construction of ice cream castles in the air and destruction of strawmen by Frederick Kagan and Kenneth Pollack at AEI, Yglesias asks : "Whether the Kagan-Pollack meeting of the minds enhances Kagan's credibility or detracts from Pollack's I'll leave as an exercise to the reader." My question: what credibility on Iraq could Pollack possibly have left to lose at this point? As Matt says, Pollack's remarks consist of a very convincing explanation of why the inevitable chaos in Iraq is going to be a disaster with considerable regional spillover, which constitutes excellent evidence for the foolishness and hubris of the war's advocates but is neither here not there in terms of demonstrating the viability of avoiding such an outcome. Pollack's conclusion, however, sums up the evasiveness and blame-shifting of the pro-war dead-enders effectively: At the end of the day, walking away from Iraq or even trying to contain it...
  • D(ECLASSIFICATION)-DAY. In...

    D(ECLASSIFICATION)-DAY. In a fairly cool story, The New York Times reports that when the clock strikes midnight on December 31st, hundreds of millions of classified government documents will instantly enter the public sphere, including 275 million from the FBI alone. Indeed, the documents, whose quarter century (or more) of secrecy has now ended, will shed enormous light on everything from the Cuban Missile Crisis to the Vietnam War to the Soviet espionage network. Should be fun stuff for the historians. An interesting sidenote here is the secrecy-obsessed Bush administration didn't block or eliminate this declassification. They could've, given that it was a Clinton initiative and subject to executive review, but they're letting it go through. Good for them. --Ezra Klein
  • OBAMA-ADJUSTED POLLS.

    OBAMA-ADJUSTED POLLS. Observing all due caveats about early horserace polls, it's possible to learn something if you remember that these polls are basically distorted by unequal name recognition. When I was a kid, the polls used to always say that Ted Kennedy was going to be the next president, later it was Mario Cuomo , etc. But since name ID is itself a measurable thing, it's possible, if you're not bound by the strict code of professional ethics governing the polling industry, to extract some useful information by factoring it in. In the current polling, there are four candidates who are almost universally known among voters: Senator Clinton , Senator McCain, Giuliani and Gore . (And John Edwards , probably somewhat less so, but for some reason he isn't in the Newsweek or CNN polls.) And there are two who are not at all well known, Senator Obama and Governor Romney . (By the way, that thing about the ethical code was a joke. Don't panic, Mr. Penn , .) In the Newsweek poll , 81%...
  • CRUDE NUKES.

    CRUDE NUKES. J. at Armchair Generalist highlights this Foreign Policy article about the dangers posed by a crude nuclear device. Long story short, it's not at all hard to construct a crude, cylinder atomic device, as long as you have the material. It can be fairly responded that "Yes, and if I had a Maserati I could go 185 ", but fissile material is not impossible to get; there's an almost limitless supply of plutonium on the shelf in Russia, and only a very small amount would be needed for a bomb. Back in late October, Bob Galluci of the Walsh School of Foreign Service scared the hell out of gathered Pattersonites by arguing in an after-dinner speech that a nuclear terrorist attack on the United States was a virtual certainty in the next fifteen years. While Lexington, Kentucky isn't a likely target, many of our graduates go on to live and work in Washington, a fact which had me thinking about what kind of memorial we would build to the alumni lost in the attack. Galluci suggested...
  • Green House Gas Fraud

    The NYT has a good piece showing the inefficiencies associated with the "Clean Development Mechanism" that some misguided geniuses included in the Kyoto agreement. The premise is reasonable: it's generally cheaper to reduce emissions in poor countries than rich countries, therefore why not allow polluters in rich countries to pay to reduce emissions in poor countries, therefore why not allow polluters in rich countries to pay to reduce emissions in poor countries, as an alternative to reducing their own emissions? The problem with the CDM is that it applies this principle on a case by case basis, which is extremely inefficient and also creates many opportunities for fraud an abuse. The obvious alternative would have been to assign the developing countries emission quotas under Kyoto that are essentially equal to their baseline growth path. Then allow them to sell any reductions against this baseline to the rich countries. This would have given the developing countries very large...
  • THE FANTASY TENSE....

    THE FANTASY TENSE. President Bush's tortured grasp of the English language is legendary, but I submit that during this morning's presser he actually provided an important clue to understanding what it is he's been saying about Iraq. He is speaking in a new tense that the rest of us have thus far failed to note the existence of: the fantasy tense. He explains it himself in his response to the following question: Q Mr. President, less than two months ago at the end of one of the bloodiest months in the war, you said, "Absolutely we're winning." Yesterday you said, "We're not winning, we're not losing." Why did you drop your confident assertion about winning? THE PRESIDENT: My comments -- the first comment was done in this spirit: I believe that we're going to win ; I believe that-- and by the way, if I didn't think that, I wouldn't have our troops there. That's what you got to know. We're going to succeed. My comments yesterday reflected the fact that we're not succeeding nearly as fast...
  • NOTES FROM THE...

    NOTES FROM THE SNIPER'S PERCH. Julian Sanchez asks : You think we're [Libertarians] toxically nuts? Try hitching your wagon to a movement that will use your nice rhetoric about environmental and labor standards as a fig leaf for raw xenophobia. Won't that be fun? I don't know, but since Libertarians have long hitched to a movement that used their nice rhetoric of individualism and liberty as a fig leaf for rank racism and regressive traditionalism, I hardly think they occupy such unimpeachable moral ground here. Democrats are betting that if they can ease economic anxieties through social welfare policies, the rumbling xenophobia powering Dobbsian populism will calm. It seems a decent bet. Much better than the Liberaltarian gambit, at least, which counsels ignoring these people in favor of the three percent of the vote that doesn't like the welfare state. Relatedly, Julian warns that the entitlement explosion is coming "either way," which he seems to think militates towards bringing...
  • SECOND VERSE, SAME...

    SECOND VERSE, SAME AS THE FIRST. The New York Times reports today that Republican former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore plans to form a presidential exploratory committee to look into a possible '08 bid. Close readers of the Prospect will recall that Gilmore, like former Va. Gov. George Allen before him, served on the board of directors of troubled high-tech firm Xybernaut . That involvement became an issue for Allen late in his campaign, and will doubtless be one for Gilmore, as well. --Garance Franke-Ruta
  • MORE ON LIBERALTARIANS.

    MORE ON LIBERALTARIANS. Brink Lindsey 's response to Jon Chait 's critique of "Liberaltarianism" clarifies things considerably. If Democrats completely give up on entitlements, Lindsey promises they can expand voucher schools, unemployment insurance, and programs to help urban kids. Such riches, doth mine eyes deceive!? There's a disturbing lack of specifics in what Lindsey wants to concede and a troublingly large amount he wants to destroy. But in the end, the question is simple: Universal health care, at least in principle, is the sine qua non of modern liberalism. Does Lindsey support it? I don't mean HSAs, or insurer deregulation, or subsidies to the very poor. I mean a restructuring of the health care market that guarantees comprehensive coverage, insulates individuals from the vagaries of fate and genetics, ends the discrimination based on health status, and controls cost with an eye towards cutting corporate profits, not consumer care. If not, then there's nothing to talk about...
  • HORSING AROUND. ...

    HORSING AROUND. The horserace surveys don't mean much this far out, but it's worth noting that, over the past month, the big-name Democrats have opened a real lead over the big name Republicans. A new CNN poll has both Hillary Clinton and Al Gore beating John McCain and Rudy Giuliani ( Obama loses to both candidates, Mitt Romney loses to everybody, and no other match-ups were tested). More generically, 52 percent of voters say they'll definitely or probably vote for the Democrat, while only 32 percent are oriented towards the GOP (and only 10 percent are "definite" Republican votes!). Again, it's early, salt heavily, etc. But for now, the GOP is suffering from a serious image crisis. --Ezra Klein

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