Archive

  • FCS TRIMMED.

    FCS TRIMMED. Future Combat Systems, the integrated, high tech system that the Army has been pursuing for the last few years (sort of the eqivalent of the F-22 or the Zumwalt destroyer, and more likely to be used than either) has taken a significant hit in the latest Army funding request. Land Warrior, a system designed to make individual infantrymen part of a high-information network, has temporarily been shelved. For those interested in the latest zombie fighting techniques, Land Warrior featured prominently in a chapter of Max Brooks' World War Z . Anyway, Defense Tech has a good discussion, including some speculation that the cut is strategic and that the Army expects to get everything back from the incoming Congress. --Robert Farley
  • How Not to Find Bias in the Media

    Austan Goolsbee used his monthly column to report the findings of a study that sought to examine bias in the media by seeing whether they use Republican or Democratic phrases. For example, in the case of President Bush's plans for Social Security, the Republican phrase would be "personal accounts," while the Democratic phrase would be "privatization." I say nice try, but no cigar. This analysis may be useful for a very narrow notion of bias, but as someone who has been commenting on economic reporting for more than a decade, I would say it misses the real story. How about comparing the number of articles that refer to the Social Security "crisis" or the need to fix Social Security, relative to the number of stories that refer to the need to fix the country's health care system? I don't know any economist who does not believe that the health care system poses a far more serious threat to the country's economy and the federal budget, yet the media give health care reform a small...
  • HITCHENS ISN'T FUNNY

    HITCHENS ISN'T FUNNY . I'm disappointed in myself for allowing Christopher Hitchens' idiotic "provocation" to, um, provoke me. If you don't want to bother reading the whole convoluted essay, I'll summarize his key point: Women are nothing but baby-makers. For this reason, they are serious about everything and have deeply impaired senses of humor. I guess this is to be expected from a straight white dude who is all in favor of using racist, sexist and heterosexist slurs . And I'm used to reading this sort of shit on Men's News Daily, World Net Daily and other crazy, largely ignored websites. But this "provocation" appeared Vanity Fair . An established and respected publication. Ugh. Echidne has a nice takedown . Also, when I first looked at this article I thought it was Christopher Hitchens who was pictured, not some "humorless woman." Turns out, I wasn't that far off. Check it out: --Ann Friedman
  • TAIL-BETWEEN-THEIR-LEGS CONSERVATIVES. Kevin...

    TAIL-BETWEEN-THEIR-LEGS CONSERVATIVES. Kevin Drum notes that a number of administration appointees plan on high-tailing it out of Washington in advance of the coming Democratic congressional investigations. The American Conservative Union, meanwhile, is massively tweaked about Republicans who've put their tails a bit lower. From a web-based letter-writing campaign they're hosting, which I was notified of by good old GOPUSA (remember them?): Majority Leader Bill Frist and Senate Republicans could have played hard-ball. They had the power to bring the nomination out of committee and to the Senate floor, where Bolton would have been easily confirmed. Yet they did NOTHING. They cringed behind their desks, determined to sneak out of Washington this week, tails between their legs! Last month, the American people went to the polls, turned about two dozen RINOs OUT OF office and DEMANDED conservative government! And unfortunately in the process, the GOP lost its majority and a few good men...
  • JUST POSTED ON...

    JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: NO MIDDLE GROUND. As Spencer promised below, here's his take on the Iraq Study Group's confused report -- and why Heidi Klum could teach this commission a thing or two. --The Editors
  • WHY, BAYH? ...

    WHY, BAYH? Luckily for Evan Bayh, John Judis 's savage recounting of his role in the 2001 Bankruptcy Reform bill has been obscured by the release of the ISG. But it really deserves a bit more publicity: Feinstein offered a very mild amendment to the bankruptcy bill. It capped the debt limit on credit cards for minors at $2,500 unless they could obtain parental consent or proof of financial independence. Dodd 's amendment was somewhat tougher. Companies could only sign up minors if their parents co-signed the credit card agreement or if the minors could prove financial independence or agreed to take a financial management course. Both amendments lost--Feinstein's by 55 to 42 and Dodd's by 58 to 41. The great majority of Democrats voted for these amendments, but not Bayh. He joined the credit card companies and the Republicans in opposing both. Bayh, during this period, was 10th in the Congress for credit company donations. But forget merely voting for their reprehensible bill, Bayh...
  • MORE IMPORTANTLY?

    MORE IMPORTANTLY? I spent my morning at the Iraq Study Group's press conference on the Hill. (I'll have a piece for TAP on all this imminently.) Many bizarre things were said, but one that revealed the ISG's midset particularly well was this, courtesy of co-chair Lee Hamilton : "We have one last chance at making Iraq work, and, more importantly, one last chance to unite this country on this war." Jigga what? Why is it more important to rally the country behind a war that has only "one last chance" to it? Why is it important at all? What's the virtue of uniting behind a mission that's crashing and burning? And, if you believe that it's really important to "win" (or, at least, "not lose") the war, why would you possibly think that uniting the country behind that objective is even more important than the objective itself? --Spencer Ackerman
  • WHAT IF WE...

    WHAT IF WE JUST ASK NICELY? Matt , whom we all miss terribly, has a terrific summary of the ISG report. As he notes, there's a somewhat sad dynamic underlying all this, which is that even good policy and competent leadership can't obviate the fundamental tensions and rivalries powering the annihilating devolution of Iraq. We all want, on every issue, to be able to craft the right set of policies and programs to fix systemic problems. Problem is, in government, as an occupying power, we only have access to certain levers and buttons. And in Iraq, none of them control the relevant actors and forces. So we can craft all the enlightened policy we want -- without a way to make the Sunnis, Shi'ites, and Kurds stop hating each other, we'll not get anywhere quick. Iraq lives or dies on grounds of national reconciliation, and despite the reports frequent calls for Iraqis to pursue it and Iranians to force it , nobody relevant seems sufficiently interested in achieving it by methods more...
  • FOR "GROUP THINK."

    FOR "GROUP THINK." Elle Reeve has a diarist up today in TNR tut-tutting the tendency of young Washingtonians to screen their roommates for political leanings. She writes, Julie puts her political orientation in her ad because she's "part of an interracial couple and my housemate is gay, so we like to put this up front so that no NRA white-supremacist homophobes [will] think they might want to live here." (Otherwise, presumably, she'd have to beat back the hordes of gun-lovers desperate to live with her in this handgun-free city.) But someone could obviously be an NRA member, or an NRA lobbyist, and live in Washington. More to the point, Julie's focus of concern clearly wasn't gun control policy, but racism and homophobia. I think it's quite reasonable for Julie to take the position that her gay roommate should be spared living with someone who doesn't recognize his or her equal rights under the law. Reeve completely avoids this serious concern and goes for an irrelevant side point,...
  • MORE POST SELF-PARODY...

    MORE POST SELF-PARODY -- AND BETTER! Ok, scratch what I said before, Ruth Marcus has nothing on Broder . --Sam Rosenfeld

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