WHEN YOU THINK YOU'VE LOST EVERYTHING, YOU FIND OUT YOU CAN ALWAYS LOSE A LITTLE MORE . So it's not just that Bush 's new chief of family planning services, Eric Keroack , uses wacky cartoons to teach kids reactionary, anti-scientific nonsense about sexuality. Apparently, he's not even a board-certified ob-gyn . Heckuva job, Bushie! (In fairness, as Bush appointments to crucial family planning posts go, he's still not quite as bad as David Hager .) -- Scott Lemieux

    CANCEL THE APPOINTMENT. The Department of Health and Human Services is now defending Eric Keroack as an appointee to lead federal family planning groups based on Keroack's private practice as an OB-GYN, during which he prescribed birth control to patients. Keroack has a record of working for Christian family planning centers that dissuade women from abortions and birth control. Moreover, he "inadvertently" let his OB-GYN certification expire in the last year at the same time that HHS officials have been touting that credential as evidence of his suitability. --Kay Steiger

    FUTURE FORCE. Did you like America's Army , the free first-person shooter designed as a recruitment tool by the US Army? Then you'll love Future Force Combat , a free game that simulates the experience of a Future Combat System equipped Mounted Combat Team. Future Force Combat accomplishes the nifty trick of being not only a recruitment tool but also a sales pitch for the most expensive integrated combat systems that the Army has ever requested. The sinkhole that is Iraq has hit the Army the hardest, and the Pentagon budgeting norms have by and large prevented a reshuffling of defense funding, potentially putting FCS in some jeopardy. J. at Armchair Generalist and Kingdaddy at Arms and Influence have additional commentary on the game and the pitch. As to FCS more generally, I remain ambivalent. The Army should certainly be planning for future conflict (this is what military organizations do), but I don't know that producing dominance over the entire combat spectrum, from low to high...

    SPEAKING OF MCCAIN. Greg has a very, very good question for him. --Sam Rosenfeld

    THE NEOCON PARTY. It's tempting to make fun of Marshall Wittmann 's newest guise, as Lieberman 's communications director, as if it were just another twist in one of the oddest careers in Washington. The New York Times has some fun with that theme today. However, it's quite obvious where this is going. John McCain will fail to win the Republican nomination, and he and Lieberman will turn up as a third party presidential ticket. They will have a great shtick: "We were each rejected by the ideological extremists in our parties, therefore we represent the true forgotten center of American politics." The Broder s of the world will salivate over the possibility. Except, of course, it will not be a centrist party. It will be the Neoconservative party, with Lieberman having taken that angry turn and McCain already there. And both are rank opportunists, for whom "straight talk" is an empty slogan. There are many ways this could go wrong, but be aware: someone is certainly thinking about it...

    OVERBLOWN. David A. Bell wishes more people were discussing and debating John Mueller 's new book Overblown , which makes the strong case against considering terrorism a genuinely dire, let alone existential, threat to the United States; I share Bell's wish. Mueller's argument is basically off-message for just about everybody, but has always stuck me as a truly useful contribution to debates over terrorism and American policy. Cato Unbound held an in-depth exchange with Mueller back in September that's worth a look, and so is this very strong New York Review of Books essay by Max Rodenbeck , reviewing (sympathetically) Mueller and a few other related books. --Sam Rosenfeld

    SPEAKER PELOSI. Now that Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer have gone into overdrive to patch things up and get the caucus unified after last week's fight, we've been reminded that the key challenge of Pelosi's leadership is likely going to be less intra-leadership squabbling with the majority leader than handling the disparate strategic and substantive priorities of the committee chairs. Her batting down of Charlie Rangel 's draft push is one early glimmer of the kind of control we're likely going to see her exerting frequently on the chairs in the next two years. That, combined with the strategic sense of theater indicated by the leadership's plan to break up the ethics reform package into constituent parts to prolong the debate and showcase incoming freshmen, offer new reasons for optimism about the strong hand Pelosi will be using as Speaker. (Don't tell the press, of course .) --Sam Rosenfeld

    THE GENIUS. Sometimes, what with General Nuisance back in the saddle again, and Richard Cohen 's apparently mistaking the 101st Airborne for a heating pad. (Note: I'm thinking that the word "therapeutic" is just going to lay there like rotting roadkill on the ol' career path for quite some time), I despair of the world. And then something like this happens , and all is right with the world again. As nice as it was to see Alma Mater take Trust Fund U out for a walk last night, I was somewhat alarmed by the report from ESPN's Doris Burke that, in his effort to broaden his horizons, Marquette coach Tom Crean visited with "the genius, Karl Rove ." I think the Jesuit fathers ought to be awfully concerned that their highest profile employee is consorting with godless pirate scum and I think Burke's standards for "genius" are at least two weeks out of date. --Charles P. Pierce

    CONCESSIONS. Two Democratic House challengers that had been holding out with razor-thin electoral deficits finally conceded defeat after further ballot counting yesterday. Patricia Madrid lost to incumbent Heather Wilson in New Mexico, Victoria Wulsin to Mean Jean Schmidt in Ohio. The open-seat race in Katherine Harris 's district (FL-13), meanwhile, has the Republican up by 369 but is headed to the courts. As subscription-only CQ reports: That candidate is Republican Vern Buchanan: The Florida secretary of state�s office yesterday certified the wealthy car dealer as the victor, by a margin of 369 votes, over Democrat Christine Jennings, a former bank president. Jennings immediately filed a lawsuit in Leon County, which is well north of the 13th District but includes the state capital of Tallahassee. The crux of Jennings� complaint � which demands that a new election be called � is that there were more than 18,000 �undervotes� in Sarasota County, the district�s largest jurisdiction...
  • Post Editorializes Against Social Security on the News Pages

    Serious newspapers try to separate their editorial pages and their news reporting, but not the Washington Post. As regular Post readers know, the editors desperately want to cut and/or privatize Social Security. The program's overwhleming popularity, coupled with the fact that the Congresssional Budget Office's projections show Social Security to be fully solvent for the next 40 years, with no changes whatsoever, makes the Post's position difficult to sell. So, the Post never misses an opporttunity to try to impugn the financial health of the porgram. A short article on the front page of the business section refers to both "the rising costs of Social Security and government health-care programs" and "the escalating costs of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid" which are projected to double in the next fifty years. Of course, the problem here it is with Medicare and Medicaid, whose costs are driven by projections of rapidly rising private sector health care costs. But, the Post isn'...