Archive

  • SCHOOMAKER: I AM NOT A SHILL!

    SCHOOMAKER: I AM NOT A SHILL! I caused a bit of a kerfuffle on my blog today when I suspected General Peter Schoomaker , the Army's chief of staff, of shifting his views on whether or not the Army is breaking under the strain of current deployment to suit the tenure -- and now departure -- of Donald Rumsfeld. After I wrote the post, I spoke with Lieutenant Colonel Gary Kolb, Schoomaker's spokesman, who "absolutely" denied that pleasing Rumsfeld played any role in his shifting stance on the health of the Army. "I'll personally vouch that General Schoomaker will tell you what's on his mind, and he'll be blunt and candid," Kolb told me. Kolb emphasized that what Schoomaker is worried about is the Defense Department's policy regarding how long after a deployment a National Guard or Army Reserve unit can be certified as fit to redeploy, without what's called "cross-leveling" -- that is, taking soldiers from other units to get the full unit back up to deployment readiness. And in Schoomaker...
  • CATASTROPHE KEEPS US FROM THE DEMOCRATIC NOMINATION.

    CATASTROPHE KEEPS US FROM THE DEMOCRATIC NOMINATION. As someone who has long been a proponent of " Hillary Myth #2 ," I was very interested in the data adduced by Garance . I do think that Matt Yglesias gets at a couple of possible limitations. First, I definitely agree that Clinton won't be perceived by Democratic primary voters as substantially more liberal than her reputation, but whether this will be true of the general electorate remains open. And second, I also agree that Clinton probably won't be seen as more liberal than an African-American Senator from Illinois, but it does seem to me that there would be a major gap in perceived versus actual progressivism when comparing Clinton to, say, John Edwards . Still, given the likely dynamics of the 2008 election, I concede that Clinton being perceived as an arch-liberal may well not be a significant problem. This theory, however, comes with a very large downside. Given that the Iraq war will still be raging and almost certainly...
  • The Death of Inflation Is Greatly Exaggerated

    I have never been one to lose sleep over modest rates of inflation (2 percent to 4 percent), but I think that some of the reporting may have overplayed the low inflation in the November CPI. Both the overall and core CPI were flat, which brings the annual rate of inflation to -3.9 percent over the last three months, and just 1.6 percent in the core. While the negative rate in the overall CPI is obviously due to a one-time drop in energy prices, there were unusual factors pushing the core rate lower as well. For example, airfares (a core component that is largely driven by energy prices) fell by 4.8 percent in November. They have fallen at a 27.1 percent annual rate since July. Car prices, which account for 10.2 percent of the core index, fell 0.8 percent in November and have fallen at a 5.7 percent annual rate over the last three months. This is attributable to heavy discounting by the big three trying to pare their inventories of unsold cars. This pace of decline will not continue...
  • JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: EXCESS BAGGAGE

    JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: EXCESS BAGGAGE . Greg Anrig reports on how the incoming Democratic majority will face an uphill battle to undo the damage done during conservatives' years in power. It is crucial to understand that it�s not merely Republicans� incompetence or political pandering that has left the government in shambles. Rather, many of their acts of sabotage were premeditated, often hatched in right-wing think tanks. The central if unstated mission of those idea factories, and their leading funders, is to weaken the public sector in order to minimize its capacity to tax and regulate the private sector. But because the general public doesn't actually share conservatism's deep hostility toward government, their most effective tactics rely on subterfuge and operate in ways that can't be easily detected. Now, Anrig writes, it's up to the Dems to shine a light on these practices, and connect the federal government's failures since 2001 with the conservative ideology out of which...
  • THE BUSH-MCCAIN WAR...

    THE BUSH-MCCAIN WAR PLAN. The New York Sun 's Eli Lake reports some interesting news on John McCain 's problematic Iraq war proposal : Unless the president's new strategy proves a clear success by the beginning of 2008, Mr. McCain could find his judgment on matters of national security being called into question. The chairman of the American Conservative Union, David Keane, said yesterday that Mr. McCain risks having opponents in the 2008 campaign refer to the new war strategy as the "McCain-Bush plan." And the editor and publisher of the Rothenberg Political Report, Stuart Rothenberg, called Mr. McCain's war position "risky." "He is not purely the guy offering the criticism now. Democrats and his fellow Republicans could criticize him for owning the policy," Mr. Rothenberg said. Mr. Bush has kept mum on any details of the new Iraq strategy, which he will unveil next month. But administration officials say he is planning to spurn the advice of his top commanders and call for up to 30,...
  • MYTHS ABOUT HILLARY.

    MYTHS ABOUT HILLARY. The new Washington Post -ABC News poll on the '08 contenders busts a couple of developing myths on the Democratic side. Myth 1: Hillary Clinton can't rely on support from women because women are ambivalent about her due to her marriage and because women, more generally, are just awful to each other. In fact : Clinton receives significantly higher support among women than men (49 percent to 29 percent). A twenty-point gap does not strike me as explainable on any other grounds than that women want a female president. A lot of what one sees in these early polls is name recognition, but name recognition can't account for a 20-point pro-Hillary gap in enthusiasm on the part of women surveyed. The easiest explanation is that there is actually some gender solidarity going on. Myth 2: Clinton is a moderate who people think of as a liberal, while Barack Obama is a liberal who is perceived as a moderate, and thus more electable in a nation that's afraid of liberals. People...
  • CURIOUSLY STRONG. ...

    CURIOUSLY STRONG. As Badler notes , John Edwards continues to demonstrate surprising strength in polls, beating John McCain in head-to-head match-ups even as McCain outruns both Obama and Clinton . Add in Edwards' astonishing lead in Iowa, the union support which should help him out in Nevada, and the hometown connection with South Carolina, and the genial Southerner can probably afford to wait out the Obama boomlet. In a weird way, Obama and Edwards occupy similar slots: They're both charismatic, eloquent, "electable," and young. But, in 2008, they'll be running precisely opposite campaigns. Edwards is staking his claim on a politics of populism: Ferociously pro-union, fiercely critical of Wal-Mart economy, profoundly engaged with problems of poverty, and so on. Obama, by contrast, looks to be positioning himself towards a politics of moral uplift, one everyone from David Brooks to Rosa Brooks can get behind. In other words, Edwards will be hoping his sharply carved out positions win...
  • STUDY THIS. ...

    STUDY THIS. It's been a rather bizarre week for the Iraq Study Group's report. A mere few days ago, all of Washington was buzzing about the politically irresistible proclamation that the Bush administration must bring in Iran and Syria while committing itself to a gradual drawdown of US troops. The outcome? The Bush administration has firmly rejected talks with Iran and Syria and is inching towards a build-up of troops. In other words: screw off, James Baker . At this point, however, shouldn't the media be freaking out? Bush has contravened the bipartisan sanctity of the ISG, ruled out the treasured solutions of every pundit whose paychecks aren't signed by Murdoch , and promised to do precisely what the American people overwhelmingly voted against in November. The obstinance of this crew has emerged an almost transcendent quality -- and yet you still have Tom Friedman begging Bush to become an environmentalist, David Ignatius suggesting he talk to Syria. When will the media realize...
  • JUST POSTED ON...

    JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: FINAL FANTASY. Apropos of Tom 's post , AEI's Fred Kagan unveiled a new Iraq plan yesterday called "Choosing Victory," which calls for, among other things, a significant infusion of new troops. In a new article , Spencer is a bit skeptical: Kagan, in his writings for The Weekly Standard , has been a vociferous critic of outgoing Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and the senior military leadership, whom he believes have jeopardized America's fortunes in Iraq through their insistence on both a relatively light military footprint and a rapid handover of security responsibilities to Iraqis. That makes it all the more painfully ironic that his plan is so Rumsfeldian: it seeks to essentially re-fight the invasion of Iraq; it substitutes wishful thinking for sound military strategy; it presumes that American military resources are both omnipotent and inexhaustible; and it's agnostic to the point of indifferent about what political settlement is to follow military...
  • DOUBLING DOWN.

    DOUBLING DOWN. So Charles Krauthammer , after denigrating the members of the Iraq Study Group and their findings, says he wants us to "'double down' our military effort" in Iraq? ("This means a surge in American troops...") The thought that anyone in the administration listens to this guy is frightening. The time for sending sufficient troops has long since passed. Even though I thought this war was a bad idea, once there, as late as autumn 2004 I still argued for more troops because it was clear that George W. Bush had violated every tenet of the Powell Doctrine , including the most important one: overwhelming force. Later, when I read Paul Bremer 's book , I wondered how it is that somebody like me -- with no security clearance and no security adviser -- could figure out from my professor's perch in Baltimore that we had sent an underwhelming force (not in the quality of the troops, but their number). Bremer confirms that the first week he arrived in Baghdad, he was handed a...

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