Archive

  • JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: THE REPLACEMENTS.

    JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: THE REPLACEMENTS. Senator Tim Johnson 's recent health scare got everyone in Washington thinking about the process for replacing a senator who is incapacitated or resigns. Matt explains why we need a new system. --The Editors
  • MOVEON HAS INFILTRATED THE JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF.

    MOVEON HAS INFILTRATED THE JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF. Bush wants to "surge" up to 30,000 combat forces into Iraq for six to eight months. The Joint Chiefs of Staff say no. And take a look at their argument : The Pentagon has cautioned that a modest surge could lead to more attacks by al-Qaeda, provide more targets for Sunni insurgents and fuel the jihadist appeal for more foreign fighters to flock to Iraq to attack U.S. troops, the officials said. The informal but well-armed Shiite militias, the Joint Chiefs have also warned, may simply melt back into society during a U.S. surge and wait until the troops are withdrawn -- then reemerge and retake the streets of Baghdad and other cities. Notice that this argument isn't merely an argument about a surge. Its logic applies to the entire combat mission in Iraq. (And if you think the "training mission" entails a lack of U.S. combat, there's a bridge I might be able to interest you in.) Apparently after six years of Rumsfeld -enforced docility,...
  • THE TRAGIC INELUCTABILITY OF BUSH'S WAR.

    THE TRAGIC INELUCTABILITY OF BUSH'S WAR. People who have seen my writings about Ralph Nader will not be surprised that I tend to be skeptical of "heighten the contradictions" arguments. As such, I'm afraid that on the merits I have to side with Sam over Spencer or Rob on this one. If Congressional Democrats could end the war, then I think they should indisputably do so. This isn't because I think that the narrative Spencer outlines won't play out; it very well might. The problem is, the blame-the-war's-opponents narrative will be trotted out and may hold no matter what the Democrats do . If the stylings of Glenn Reynolds have taught us nothing else -- and they certainly haven't -- it's that precisely because they're unfalsifiable tautologies " stab-in-the-back " arguments can be deployed irrespective of the evidence on the ground or what the Democrats do. (After all, it's not as if the narrative was a plausible explanation of Vietnam either.) There's simply no question that the...
  • POLITICAL PUNDITRY HAS...

    POLITICAL PUNDITRY HAS A COLD. Atrios 's comments on the ISG touch on a rather important flaw in political punditry: How is that little old me, one of the blogosphere's most disreputable rabid lambs, understands what's going a hell of a lot better than The Wise Old Men of Washington? Really, I'm just aghast at this. Bush has made it quite clear for months and years that leaving is losing. My brilliant insight isn't based on my ability to look deep into his soul, it is based on my ability to hear what he has said over and over again. Political punditry has a cold. Or, to put it another way, it's totally infected by Gay Talese 's classic profile, " Frank Sinatra Has a Cold ," which took an opaque and taciturn public figure and drew out, through close reporting and observation, the human laying within. That, combined with creeping Dowdism , has destroyed political analysis in this country. The problem is that the press corps approaches political rhetoric with such reflexive cynicism that...
  • MOVEMENT PROGRESSIVISM ON THE MOVE.

    MOVEMENT PROGRESSIVISM ON THE MOVE. I consider myself a �movement progressive." Though we can and will argue about the tenets and meaning of that term, if the label generally fits you, you�ll be cheered by E.J. Dionne�s column in today�s Washington Post : When a nation alters its philosophical direction and changes its assumptions, there is no press release to announce the shift, no news conference where The People declare that they have decided to move down a different path. Yet 2006 is looking more and more like one of history's hinge years, a moment when old ideas are cast aside, new leaders emerge and old leaders decide to speak in new ways� When the right seemed headed to dominance in the early 1990s, the hot political media trend was talk radio and the star was Rush Limbaugh�Now the chic medium is televised political comedy and the cool commentators are Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. It wasn't all that long ago that Democrats and liberals were said to be out of touch with "the...
  • THE IRAQI ARMY GAMBIT.

    THE IRAQI ARMY GAMBIT. Meanwhile, I would add to Spencer's critique of Major Connable's NYT op-ed (about the on-the-ground consequences of a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq) and note that the major's account of the collapse of institutions upon U.S. redeployment leaves an unanswered question; if local institutions cannot survive without the presence of U.S. forces, precisely what good are U.S. troops doing? Even if we accept that the consequences of withdrawal will be dire (and I don't fully concede this) there has to be some account of how the presence of U.S. forces improves the situation, rather than simply allowing the maintenance of a hopeless status quo. U.S. troops will leave someday. If the U.S. presence is simply delaying the inevitable, then it's hard to see the point of a continued, bloody occupation. The magic bullet that Connable (and, incidentally, the ISG) presents is a well trained and effective Iraqi military, one capable of overcoming sectarian division and carrying out a...
  • Like I Said, The Death of Inflation Has Been Greatly Exaggerated

    The producer price index showed that the core finished goods index jumped 1.3 percent in November, more than reversing a 0.9 percent decline reported for October. Much of the story was passenger cars and light trucks. They rose by 2.2 percent and 13.7 percent, respectively after showing October declines of 2.3 percent and 9.7 percent. This reflects the timing of discounts, which was an important factor holding down the November CPI. The moral of this story is that price data (like most data) are very erratic. You can never make too much of a single month's data. If the data look very different from prior months' data, then the odds are that it is an aberation which will be reversed in future months. --Dean Baker
  • SPENCER: MAKING SENSE.

    SPENCER: MAKING SENSE. I quite agree with Spencer's argument that Iraq remains a minefield even for anti-war Dems. That the public supports withdrawal now doesn't mean that they'll support it in five or ten years time. I think that support for withdrawal is genuine, and likely larger than the polling has captured, if only because there remains a core group of Republican partisans who can't bring themselves to publicly renounce the war, regardless of how they feel privately. But as Spencer has pointed out, that support can vanish in hindsight. It wasn't just Norm Podhoretz who, over time, became re-illusioned with the Vietnam War. Millions of moderate to conservative Americans who had come to support a withdrawal from Vietnam by 1972 found it very easy to convince themselves, by 1980, that the war had been a noble struggle undermined by the malfeasance of counter-culture activists and Congressional Democrats. On the other hand, the Iraq situation is different. Democrats, even hawkish...
  • White Hat Rubinites verse Black Hat Populists: WSJ on the Split in the Democratic Party

    The Wall Street Journal reported today on the split between the Wall Street oriented Rubinite/Hamiltonian wing of the Democratic wing and the more working class oriented populist wing of the party. There is little doubt which side the WSJ is on. The article comes right out swinging, telling readers that Robert Rubin �redefined the formerly protectionist, free-spending party as a champion of free trade and balanced budgets.� Hmmm, that�s objective reporting? Is it a fact that the pre-Rubin party was �free-spending?� According to my copy of the Economic Report of the President , the ratio of government debt to GDP fell from 56.1 percent in 1960 to 42.5 percent at the end of 1968. During the Carter administration the debt to GDP ratio declined from 36.2 percent to 33.3 percent. As I recall, both Walter Mondale, the 1984 president nominee, and Michael Dukakis, the 1988 nominee, ran on platforms of deficit reduction. I am sure that there were free-spending Democrats out there, but they don...
  • JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: ADVICE NOT TAKEN.

    JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: ADVICE NOT TAKEN. What plan for Iraq did one top expert warn was doomed to likely failure when he advised the ISG? The very plan they adopted. Gareth Porter reports . --The Editors

Pages