BARBARIANS AT THE GATES. If Walter Pincus is correct that Defense Secretary-designee Bob Gates will scale back Donald Rumsfeld 's expansion of the Pentagon's role in intelligence, we should let out a resounding cheer. Rumsfeld pushed the Pentagon way, way out into the blue yonder of intelligence work -- both with the Policy Counterterrorism Evaluation Group , designed to obstruct CIA analysis on Iraq and al-Qaeda, and in the field of human intelligence collection . The PCEG's failures speak for themselves. The HUMINT stuff is more obscure and wonky, but it has real consequences. DOD intelligence is about tactical matters, not strategic ones -- for instance, learning what bridge to blow up in the field, rather than running spies or informants for years. But the Defense Intelligence Agency has been pushing its resources into duplicating what the CIA already does, and has done for half a century. And consider that if DIA, say, turns a colonel in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, the CIA...

    THE GAME'S STILL THE SAME ... IT JUST GOT MO' FIERCE. I received the same stunning Hill article in my inbox last night that Josh Marshall writes about here. Excerpt: House Speaker-to-be Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) will ensure that Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) wins his race for majority leader, a key Murtha ally said Monday night. �She will ensure that they [the Murtha camp] win. This is hard-ball politics,� said Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.), a longtime Murtha supporter. �We are entering an era where when the Speaker instructs you what to do, you do it.�... If Moran�s claims are true, Pelosi is taking an enormous gamble only a week after the election propelled her into the Speakership. If she prevails, she will likely banish her onetime rival Hoyer to the back benches and send a clear signal to her colleagues that she intends to rule with an iron hand. If Hoyer wins, she loses substantial political capital and alerts the caucus that they can successfully oppose her. I was all set to emphasize what a...

    KLEIN'S LATEST. (THE OTHER KLEIN.) You don't need to be Nostradamus -- which will continue to climb in the polls until it loses to USC in a couple of weeks -- to know that this piece would contain many of the essential elements of a nightmare. However, it's not altogether horrible once you get past the cover, and if you ignore: a) the inevitable man-crush on Jim Webb ; b) the fact that the name of Howard Dean one less time than does the name Terri Schiavo ; and c) all that unseemly slobbering over the twin Sun Gods, Chuck 'n Rahm . (If you're going to credit them for the win in Ohio because they forced out Paul Hackett in favor of Sherrod Brown , and leaving aside the fact that Hackett likely would have won anyway, since the Ohio GOP was disincorporating before the eyes of the nation, shouldn't you at least feel obligated to point out that they tried the same thing in Montana, but that Jon Tester beat their handpicked candidate on the way to becoming every bit the U.S. senator that...
  • Trade Deals the Washington Post Likes

    In an article discussing the prospect for new trade deals with the Democratic Congress, the Post again uses the term "free trade" to describe these agreements. As BTP readers know, these deals are not really free trade agreements -- they generally do little to reduce the barriers that protect the highly paid professionals (e.g. doctors, lawyers, economists) and they increase protection for intellectual products -- so it is inaccurate to call them "free trade" agreements. This is not just semantics. The Post, and other media outlets, are actively misleading the public about the purpose of these trade agreements. At one point the article comments that the discontent with trade follows "more than a dozen years of efforts by the Bush and Clinton administrations to boost trade by opening foreign markets to U.S. goods while allowing greater access to imports from China, Latin America and elsewhere." Well, it is very questionable as to whether the prime purpose of these agreements "open...
  • Times Columnist Flunks Reading Comprehension

    John Tierney did a little hit and run job, tossing out a few more outlandish claims in what is his last NYT column . While I ordinarily am inclined to ignore him, since we apparently won't have John Tierney to kick around anymore, I will highlight one of his errors. Tierney claims that the Democrats proposed expanding several programs, " but they�ve been vague about how to pay for them." Well, the biggest program on this list is the Medicare prescription drug benefit. The Democrats have proposed reducing the size of the "doughnut hole" gap in coverage by having Medicare negotiate prices directly with the pharmaceutical industry, in the same way that the Veterans Administration does. This is not a vague concept, it is very clear what the commitment is (whether the Dems follow through is another question). Anyhow, BTP wishes Mr. Tierney well in his new job as writer for the NYT Science section. --Dean Baker

    JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: IRAN HAWKS REORGANIZE. Say hello to the Iran Enterprise Institute. Laura Rozen reports. --The Editors
  • KONY.

    KONY. To stray off the beaten path for a moment, The New York Times reports on the remarkable meeting between a UN official and the extremely reclusive Joseph Kony , leader of the almost indescribably brutal and horrifying northern Ugandan rebel group known as the Lord's Resistance Army . Kony is wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of crimes against humanity; Fast Leon Goldberg occasionally covered this story for TAP . This 2005 Human Rights Watch report givens some background on this conflict, which has brewed in the country's North for nearly twenty years. (Sidenote: Forest Whitaker , currently earning raves as Idi Amin in the movie The Last King of Scotland , is developing a film about the LRA that he plans to direct.) At the very least, the Times piece is worth a read. --Sam Rosenfeld

    DON'T FORGET THE GREENS. Rick Perlstein 's piece from Friday is right to caution that just because Democrats squeaked out a victory in the midterms, progressives should not ignore or forget the fact that Republican chicanery very nearly turned the tide the other way -- and that it might do so the next time. Along these lines -- of stressing certain points that victory might threaten to obscure -- I think it's worth pointing out that the Independent Green Party candidate for Senate from Virginia, Glenda Parker , received 26,106 votes, 1 percent of those cast. Had George Allen won by the same thin margin that Jim Webb did, Democrats would complain that yet again a marginal, lefty third party cost them control of a branch of government. And understandably so. The Independent Green Party , while a distinct entity from the Green Party, also clearly belongs in the same spoiler category. The Independent Greens' signature issue is mass transit. As an avid supporter of mass transit and...

    POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: POOR INITIATIVE. Ben "Badler" Adler notes one dog that didn't bark on Tuesday -- the supposed political potency and spill-off effects of state anti-gay marriage initiatives across the country. --The Editors
  • ROB'S QUESTION. Ask...

    ROB'S QUESTION. Ask and ye shall receive. On the question of Howard Dean , Liberal Hero and Centrist Governor, may I present this , and, of course, this as well . Personally, I think this guy's got a good bead on things. --Charles P. Pierce