Archive

  • FOCUS ON THE GOVERNORS

    FOCUS ON THE GOVERNORS : As the unofficial vice-president of Ezra 's Gore/Sebelius '08! fan club, I would be remiss not to link to Matt 's argument here . The Washington press corps' bias towards politicians already in the Beltway does seem to be the most convincing explanation for the gross overrepresentation of senators, beltway politicians, and scions of political families when discussing presidential candidates. (Would anyone have been touting the hapless George Allen as a presidential frontrunner if he had been governor of Wyoming?) With Sebelius, for example, it seems clear that she has some serious political skills -- for a (pro-choice!) woman to become a two-term Democratic governor of Kansas is considerably more impressive than, say, a Democrat able to become a two-term senator from New York. But with some online exceptions , it's hard to evaluate her fit for a spot on a national ticket because so little is written about her. And what's all the more annoying about this is...
  • LEAVE "LEAVE IT...

    LEAVE "LEAVE IT TO BEAVER" TO BEAVER. To momentarily take a breath from the election's aftermath and zoom back to the long view, there's some interesting research out of the Brookings-Princeton project "The Future of Children," on the impact of culture on poverty transmission. In short, conservatives have two ideas on poverty. The first is that people should work. That was achieved in the 1996 welfare reform. The second is that they should get married. Post-welfare reform, that's been their focus. Nothing, they claim, is nearly so critical as marriage. So Charles Murray now preaches the gospel of Leave It To Beaver. The approach is a particularly elegant form of pandering: It denies the need for government action, reifies the Christian obsession with marriage, and insinuates that the poverty of poor blacks can be blamed on their insufficiently virtuous family structures. In other words, it's their fault. Problem is, the evidence doesn't support the claims. There's plenty of data...
  • THE OTHER BIG...

    THE OTHER BIG LOSER IN LEBANON: AMERICA. The argument about whether Israel or Hezbollah won their summer war goes on , but everyone agrees that the Lebanese people were the big losers. The image of the United States also took a pounding in Lebanon, according to the initial findings of the latest Gallup World Poll (annoyingly not available on their lousy website because it's proprietary). Gallup compared results from August 2005 to late September/early October 2006, about a month after the fighting ended. Wonder of wonders, most Lebanese aren't too happy that the Bush administration delayed a UN ceasefire in the vain hope that Israel would crush Hezbollah decisively. A year ago, 39 percent of Lebanese had favorable views of the U.S. and 42 percent held unfavorable opinions. In the new poll, the breakdown is 59 percent unfavorable compared to 28 percent favorable. Half of that 59 is in the "very negative" category. 64 percent of those sampled say their attitude toward the U.S. is worse...
  • "FLOOZY-PATCH."

    "FLOOZY-PATCH." I know he's a brilliant young thinker, but, mother of God, if there's anything worse than Jonah Goldberg 's attempting comedy while writing about sex , I can't imagine what it is. Wait a minute. I can imagine something. And it is worse. --Charles P. Pierce
  • MORE CASH, PLEASE.

    MORE CASH, PLEASE. What, the security fence along the Mexican border may actually cost many times what was projected ? The hell you say! The Bush administration's proposal to secure the nation's borders with a high-tech "virtual fence" is likely to cost far more than the $2 billion that industry analysts initially estimated, possibly up to $30 billion, a government watchdog agency warned yesterday. Wow. One would almost think that the fence is a giant boondoggle designed to mollify anti-immigration conservatives (including Lou Dobbs and Mickey Kaus ) while pouring money into the pockets of big defense contractors. Hat tip to Jason , who has a couple others examples from the extraordinarily rare species, "defense project run amok." --Robert Farley
  • JOE'S GAME. I...

    JOE'S GAME. I had missed this yesterday, but Greg offers a really sharp take on Joe Lieberman 's real prospects for switching parties (they're dim), as compared with the leverage he gains by playing up the threat via a willing press. Check it out (and note the Tom Friedman -style "memo to x" framing for a little bonus Times -bashing). --Sam Rosenfeld
  • REYES THE ROOF....

    REYES THE ROOF. Now that the Congressional Black Caucus has endorsed Alcee Hastings to chair the Intelligence Committee and the Blue Dogs have united behind Jane Harman , attention is focusing on Silvestre Reyes as a compromise candidate. Reyes is an interesting guy and, it would seem, a sound choice. A moderate Democrat from El Paso, Texas, Reyes was a Vietnam vet and made his name as a border patrol officer. His district is nearly 80% Hispanic and he pulled down a commensurate share of the vote in 2006. He's chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, opposed the Iraq War from the start, tough on border security, and a member of, in addition to the Intelligence Committee, the Armed Services and Veterans' Affairs committees. In sum, he's precisely the sort of Democrat you'd want, on paper, chairing the Intelligence Committee. Of course, none of this predicts what sort of spokesperson he'll be. But a quick survey of his videos page shows him saying the right things in the right way...
  • MCCAIN TRUE COLORS WATCH.

    MCCAIN TRUE COLORS WATCH. In anticipation of a good two years (let's hope not six or ten) of John McCain sucking up to the bigoted base of his party, I'm hereby inaugurating "McCain True Colors Watch" (naming credit goes to Ezra ) -- an occasional update on craven McCain's latest disappointment. First installment: The Hill reported yesterday that McCain provided crucial support to segregationist Sen. Trent Lott in his barely successful bid to return to the Republican leadership (he beat out Sen. Lamar Alexander by one vote Minority Whip.) The Hill characterized McCain as a "strong Lott booster." Who says McCain will have trouble with the base? Maybe Lott will return the favor and get McCain an endorsement from the Council of Conservative Citizens . --Ben Adler
  • OPEN OFFICE SPACE.

    OPEN OFFICE SPACE. So, Spencer , could we say that the War on Terror has a been a boon for low level managers at Al Qaeda? More seriously, I wonder where Al Qaeda has made its most serious human capital investments. Every kind of organization, from corporate to military, relies on an expert class that holds the knowledge, training, and connections needed to make the group function. This class is often not the elite leadership; the State Department, for example, relies much more on career professionals than on the political appointees who often occupy the top spots. Similarly, the US Army would have a difficult time doing anything without its expert, professional non-commissioned officer corps. I really haven't the faintest idea how human expertise is distributed in Al Qaeda, but it seems more likely that not that it isn't concentrated in the celebrity leadership that CIA has until recently been tracking. As the disintegration and dispersal of the core Al Qaeda group has been one...
  • MORE MORAN.

    MORE MORAN. Alec writes in to note some follow-up commentary from arch- Murtha booster Jim Moran , quoted in subscription-only Congress Daily : Murtha-backer Jim Moran (D-VA), on freshmen who voted for Hoyer: "It remains to be seen if their wished-for committee assignments are fulfilled." The dude just doesn't quit. --Sam Rosenfeld

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