Archive

  • DEM GOVS: AN EMBARASSMENT OF RICHES.

    DEM GOVS: AN EMBARASSMENT OF RICHES. As Scott pointed out , Matt worries that there's too little talk about good middle-America governors as presidential candidates, and that "we may be doomed to an endless cycle of Senators (who DC political reporters already cover), governors from Virginia and Maryland (whose exploits are detailed in the Metro section of The Washington Post ), and scions of famous families." That seems unlikely, since not only are senators rarely elected president, they are rarely nominated. There's always talk: Every presidential cycle begins with a long line of senators who want to be president, but usually ends with a governor: between 1976, 1988, and 1992, there are probably two dozen sitting Dem senators who thought they had a shot until Carter , Dukakis or Clinton came along. Matt's "counterpoint" example of Howard Dean proves the point. The reason Dean jumped out ahead of the pack was not the netroots, but the very fact that he was the only governor in a pack...
  • OVERSEEING THE OVERSEERS.

    OVERSEEING THE OVERSEERS. One thing you may not know about Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-Tx), now being considered as a compromise candidate to chair the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI), is that he joined his friend and colleague, outgoing congressman Curt Weldon at a meeting with infamous Iran Contra arms dealer Manucher Ghorbanifar , against the advice of the Agency, and without informing the U.S. ambassador in Paris, as is proper protocol. The meeting took place at the Sofitel hotel on Rue Boissy D'Anglas around the corner from the US embassy in Paris on a Saturday morning in the spring of 2004 (see update below), according to two sources. (The US government was actually surveilling the hotel lobby that morning out of concern that Iranians might potentially try to harm the congressmen; Weldon apparently loudly asked the concierge for a room for a secret meeting). Ghorbanifar and his business partner were trying to entice the U.S. congressmen to take up the cause...
  • THE WORST OF ALL POSSIBLE WORLDS.

    THE WORST OF ALL POSSIBLE WORLDS. As long as TNR is trying to find the pony in Iraq , it's worth observing that the U.S.-sponsored Maliki government has just escalated the civil war tremendously. Maliki has just issued an arrest warrant for Harith al-Dhari , the leader of the most prominent Sunni organization, the Association of Muslim Scholars. This is exactly analogous to Paul Bremer's disastrous decision to shut down Moqtada al-Sadr's newspaper in March 2004, which unleashed the Sadrist insurgency. Except, since there was no civil war in March 2004, this is much worse. It will be seen as -- and, more importantly, is -- a strike by the government against all Sunnis. Laura may be more right about a tilt to the Shiites than she realizes. Someone in the U.S. military or the Bush administration must have had known about this latest disaster beforehand. --Spencer Ackerman
  • THE QUEST.

    THE QUEST. In my never-ending quest for the worst writing about sports ever published, I have long felt that, a few years back, the Special Sports Issue of The Weekly Standard set, well, the standard. (In it, Fred Barnes made an attempt to re-cast the NBA as a "conservative" sport based on the fact that one of its stars was Charles Barkley , who then was making silly mouth-noises about being a Republican. Hilarity ensued. Please, everyone at TAP Central, make sure NBA beat man Matt never sees this issue. It won't be good for the young man at all.) However, we have something of a contender right here , unless you can convince me that this is somehow parody. --Charles P. Pierce
  • UGLY FACE.

    UGLY FACE. Noy 's review of Iraq in Fragments conveys the power of wartime images -- images that usually aren't pretty. This week, the Post offered an excellent snapshot of the lasting effects of the Vietnam War, depicting vivid images of children who suffer from the remnants of toxic Agent Orange. The images of deformed children have stayed with me since I saw the photographs earlier this week. One somehow doubts that the president is getting much exposure to these human testaments to war's horror on his current visit to Vietnam. Meanwhile, the public consensus has shifted against the Iraq war, and that country will bear the scars for a long time, much as Vietnam still does. Many of the depictions of Iraq on American media have been rightfully criticized for being overly sanitized. To a certain degree, sites like YouTube and other Internet resources have helped to break down those barriers and bring harsher (and more telling) imagery to the surface. But of course the public never...
  • WHO'S ZOOMIN' WHO?...

    WHO'S ZOOMIN' WHO? With all due respect to Brothers Rob and Spencer , I think the more operative question is not one of "where al-Qaeda has made its most serious human capital investments," but rather, from where outside its own ranks does al-Qaeda draw expertise and logistical aid? Like its compatriots in the Taliban, it's almost certain that al-Qaeda's bench is deep with advisers from the feared Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency, a Pashtun stronghold that has never truly submitted to the command of the nation's leaders. Today, on NPR's "Morning Edition," intelligence reporter Mary Louise Kelly reported from Islamabad this account of her meetings with ISI officials, who are currently under suspicion of tipping off Taliban fighters to the movements of U.S. troops. Anyone who has dared to peek under these covers has held such suspicions since the days just after 9/11, when then-ISI Director Mahmood Ahmed was tasked with convincing the Taliban to give up Osama bin Laden...
  • 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

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