ARABIC: DIFFICULT. Long-time readers of my other blog, American Footprints, may know that I spent the last year and some change in Cairo, Egypt, learning Arabic. So it is with some first-hand experience that I approach Matt Yglesias'observation that "the severe paucity of people who speak Arabic (to say nothing of Farsi, Pashto, etc.) is incredibly crippling to a whole range of military, diplomatic, intelligence, and law enforcement endeavors."
BUYER'S REMORSE. This gloriously frank piece is getting a decent amount of blogo-buzz this morning, and it's got me to thinking that the current buyer's remorse among "principled" conservatives makes me want to vomit.
I am not really having any fun attacking my old friends -- but I don�t know how else to respond when people call decent men like Jim Webb a pervert for no other reason than to win an election. I don�t know how to deal with people who think savaging a man with Parkinson�s for electoral gain is appropriate election-year discourse."
DON'T FORGET KATRINA. With all the mudslinging and war talk that has dominated this mid-term campaign, the Bush administration's Gulf Coast debacle has been forced into the background, except for the occasional use of the name "Katrina" as a synonym for ineptitude (as in John Kerry's description of the president's "Katrina foreign policy"). Yet Katrina is not simply the story of incompetence; it is many stories, stories of race, class, heritage, and abandonment.
JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: ALLEN'S OPTIONS. In a Prospect exclusive, Garance Franke-Rutareports on new information concerning Xybernaut, the beleaguered tech company on whose board George Allen served in the late nineties.
"HIS AMBITION HAS MADE HIM A COWARD." I like how you put that, Charlie. I know that ambition corrupts, and absolute ambition corrupts absolutely, but I'm still a bit shocked and awed at the depths to which McCain has dropped. Put aside his faux-ideological independence, his disheartening ability to pass off traditional conservatism as modern centrism. The one thing McCain always retained, and always seemed serious about, was an elevated expectation for politics. He seemed to believe that campaigns should be about something more than decontextualized votes and misleading attacks.
YOU'VE GOTTA LOVE POWERPOINT. A fun slide from a presentation at Central Command finds its way to the New York Times, upshot being that the situation is worse now than it ever has been before. The presentation was given to President Bush and SecDef Rumsfeld on October 18; maybe it helped spur the "We are not stay the course, we have never been stay the course" charade?
A PROPOSAL. If we're going to play by Mark Halperin's rules of mindless balance, then every news item about John Kerry's hamfisted way with humor should be followed by a sentence something like this: "This is not the first time an important politician has been caught in what observers say is an act of disrespect for our troops." Which would then be followed by a description (in print) or the actual footage (on TV) of this.
FEVERED. Someone please show me a single act of public political courage undertaken by John McCain since he won the New Hampshire primary in 2000 that he hasn't hedged, trimmed, or walked back completely. The Bush campaign trashed his wife and daughter, and he's spent the years since trying to get a job as the pool boy in Crawford. He gave a brave speech about the danger of political preachers, but he'd walk on his knees across broken glass to get himself blessed by Jerry Falwell's direct-mail people. But yesterday might well be the purest day of opportunistic sycophancy in the history of the Straight Talk Express.
I have railed in the past about the uselessness of the consumer confidence index. It basically gives us a measure of where the economy is today and tells nothing about where it will be tomorrow. For this reason, I was not especially impressed by the news that the index had fallen slightly last month. It is worth noting that the drop was driven by a substantial decline in the current conditions index, from 128.3 to 124.7. This component, which does tell us about how people are feeling today, tells us that people are becoming more pessimistic, in spite of the drop in gas prices.