Archive

  • JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: THE DREAM PALACE OF THE BUSHIES.

    JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: THE DREAM PALACE OF THE BUSHIES. For years we've heard about the pathologies afflicting Arab publics -- the delusional thinking, the ideological rigidity. Blake , surveying the wreckage of U.S. policy in the Mid-East, notes that Arabs are hardly the only ones. --The Editors
  • INTRODUCING THE REPUBLICRATS.

    INTRODUCING THE REPUBLICRATS. Sebastian Mallaby touches on an oft-mentioned obsession of mine, the impact the Southernization of the GOP will have on conservatism: It's not just the values of the South that pose a problem. It is the region's appetite for government. The most solidly red states in the nation tend also to be the most reliant on federal handouts -- farm subsidies, water projects and sundry other earmarks. It's hard to be the party of small government when you represent the communities that benefit most from big government. George W. Bush tried to straddle this divide by pleasing libertarians with tax cuts and traditionalists with spending. The result is a huge deficit. Right. This is a point I made at length in my " Rise of the Republicrats " article, but in addition to adoring pork and handouts, the South is economically insecure and downwardly mobile. It has the lowest median income in the nation and, between 2002 and 2003, was the only region to see its income drop...
  • THE MORNING-AFTER PILL CONSPIRACY.

    THE MORNING-AFTER PILL CONSPIRACY. The Center for Reproductive Rights and the activists at the MAP Conspiracy are well aware that the fight over Plan B access isn't over , and they're trucking right along with their lawsuit against the FDA for its decision to ignore the science and deny Plan B over-the-counter to teens. A New York judge recently agreed to allow the Center to subpoena White House officials and question them about their involvement in the FDA's three-year delay . (Predictably, the Justice Department is fighting the subpoena.) Depositions in this case have already revealed some details about the Bush administration's meddling. As far back as 2003, then-FDA commissioner Mark McClellan agreed to an unprecedented meeting with a White House domestic policy adviser to discuss the Plan B application. And Dr. Janet Woodcock (who also warned that Plan B would create teen sex cults ) came right out and said Plan B shouldn't be sold over-the-counter to teens -- not because of the...
  • AGAINST SOLITARY CONFINEMENT....

    AGAINST SOLITARY CONFINEMENT. Apropos of Atrios 's comment on the inhumanity of solitary confinement , readers who'd like to know more about how and why America turned away from that form of punishment -- which was in the early 19th century considered more humane than what had come before -- and turned instead to the rehabilitative prison model -- which we've also since partly abandoned -- would do well to read Charles Dickens 's 1842 book American Notes for General Circulation , the full text of which can be found online here. Dickens' description of and outrage at the system, in Chapter 7, "Philadelphia and its Silent Prison," seems worth thinking about as we read about the isolation of Jose Padilla , American citizen and one-time enemy combatant: In the outskirts, stands a great prison, called the Eastern Penitentiary: conducted on a plan peculiar to the state of Pennsylvania. The system here, is rigid, strict, and hopeless solitary confinement. I believe it, in its effects, to be...
  • DING-DONG, THE BOLTON'S...

    DING-DONG, THE BOLTON'S GONE. Besides Cheney, Rumsfeld and Bolton were the two Bush appointees who generated the most progressive ire. And now they're both gone. Elections have consequences, I know, but given Bush's profound stubborness, I didn't expect such total capitulation to liberal preferences. And it was just two years ago that this guy had a historic, three-percent mandate... --Ezra Klein
  • WHO TO REPLACE BOLTON?

    WHO TO REPLACE BOLTON? It's no secret that Bolton was Cheney 's man and that Secretary Rice was less than pleased with him. It's also no secret that when negotiations got particularly sensitive Rice would do her utmost to cut out Bolton by dispatching Nicholas Burns to New York or intervening herself. So the question on my mind is who will wield more influence in the internal debate over Bolton's replacement: Rice or Cheney? There are a few names being kicked around: Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad , Representative Jim Leach , and Under Secretary of State Paula Dobriansky to name a few. Each of these three could be described as foreign policy pragmatists from of Secretary Rice's camp. If this holds, it seems that we may be in for a course correction at the United Nations. --Mark Leon Goldberg
  • BOLTED. As you've...

    BOLTED . As you've heard, John Bolton will go to the White House today to personally hand his resignation to President Bush . Scott Paul at Bolton Watch (where I also blog) says he's likely to hit the speaking circuit and write a book blasting the Bush administration for abandoning ultra-conservative foreign policy principles. Whatever he's up to next, it will be new morning in Turtle Bay. Since Bolton took the helm of the U.S. mission to the UN, he has been a singularly pernicious influence on American foreign policy. As an unnamed diplomat told the Economist a couple of weeks ago, "It is extraordinary how badly he has served American interests. To be embraced by America is now seen as a kiss of death." Bolton's resignation comes at a time when the administration is increasingly looking to the United Nations to take on a greater share of global peace and stability maintenance. In August the United States, along with the other veto-wielding members of the Security Council, voted for...
  • MISTAKES, REPEATED.

    MISTAKES, REPEATED. Kingdaddy has a less rosy appreciation of U.S. theoretical counter-insurgency efforts than I: A separate internal review this year by the military's Center for Army Lessons Learned, based on 152 interviews with soldiers involved in the training and advisory program, found that there was "no standardized guideline" for preparing advisers and that such instruction was needed because "a majority of advisors have little to no previous experience or training." Imagine if each tank platoon in the U.S. Army received a different set of training, with varying degrees of quality. Imagine if each SEAL team received recruited and trained for unconventional warfare differently. Now, imagine yourself as a divisional or theater commander, trying to figure out how well a particular war is going. Maybe the doctrine is wrong--but which doctrine, among many that various units under your command seem to be pursuing? Even more important is the perspective of Iraqi civilian and military...
  • SELECTIVE ORIGINALISM.

    SELECTIVE ORIGINALISM. Amy Stuart Wells discusses the school integration cases that will be argued before the Supreme Court today. In addition to their intrinsic interest, cases involving racial classifications that are used to facilitate integration rather than segregation are intriguing because they provide evidence (beyond the obvious ) of the incoherence of modern conservative judicial theories. It's not uncommon to hear the Court upholding affirmative action programs as "judicial activism," although of course in such decisions the courts are deferring to electorally accountable branches. So perhaps this means that the court is departing from the "original meaning" of the Constitution? The problem is that it's almost impossible to justify striking down affirmative action programs in "originalist" terms, and the Supreme Court's purportedly "originalist" judges have never bothered to try. If you look at the relevant jurisprudence of Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas , you'll see...
  • HARDER, BETTER, FASTER,...

    HARDER, BETTER, FASTER, STRONGER. Good column by Daniel Gross making the point that, contrary to popular belief, America does have a sort of national health care system. It's just not organized in a way that makes any sense. If you tally up the amount spent on deductibility for employer-based care ($208 billion), Medicare ($378 billion), Medicaid ($180 billion), not to mention military health care, coverage for public employees, and various sundry other programs and subsidies, you have the federal government picking up 2/3rds of the total tab for health care in this country. It just does so in an inchoate, nonsensical fashion. Some politicians, including former governor John Kitzhaber , argue for simply totaling up the money we already spend, then funneling it all into some sort of new, coherent program that could do much more for much less. After that, we could talk about new funds. Always seemed sensible to me, but the political life expectancy of someone suggesting an end to...

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