A WEBB OF LIES. A few quick points on the ostensibly grotesque sexual scenes in James Webb's fiction. The first is that it's rather remarkable how few of them there are. The guy's a war novelist -- and somehow, the testosterone pumping through those stories tends to enable no end of pornographic asides. And yet only three of the examples on George Allen's list are actually sexual in nature. One is a scene set in strip club where a stripper mounts a banana. Another has two male prisoners engaging in furtive mutual masturbation. And then there's the the real excerpt:
WHAT WE DIDN'T DO.Rob, in your piece defending the Afghanistan war, you imply that the massive support the U.S. enjoyed both in that moment and for that mission could've been used to achieve a variety of other goals: Iran, for instance, approached us in the days following, anxious to follow up on their cooperation with a Grand Bargain that would derail their nuclear program in response for security guarantees, better relations, and possible incentives from America. That about right?
GROW, MY MONSTERS, GROW! Yes, yes, economic growth (or possibly total collapse) is important for keeping the country relatively progressive, satisfied, and welcoming. Ben Friedman's book is genius, and we all forget it at our peril. The one thing about that thesis nobody mentions, though: The distribution of that growth matters.
OUTTA DA MARRIAGE BIZ. As a queer native of the Garden State, I applaud the state Supreme Court decision that orders the legislature of my native land to do the right thing and give us our rights. Like Scott, I'm down with the decision of the best damn state supreme court in the land, but perhaps for less thoughtful and realistic reasons: It gives me hope that the government might, one day, get out of the marriage business altogether.
JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: STILL THE RIGHT WAR. As the Iraq debacle has continued to lay bare the pitfalls of occupation, the Taliban is resurgent in Afghanistan and Western forces remain bogged down there, five years after the initial U.S. invasion. Some observers are now starting to reconsider the wisdom of that war as well. Today, Robtakes up the question of Afghanistan and assesses in retrospect the case for invasion.
Those folks wanting to weigh the impact of the economy on the elections next month would well-advised to place more emphasis on yesterday's reported plunge in new home prices than the recent uptick in the stock market. The basic story is simple, most people have far more money in their house than in the stock market. Of course, the reson for the fall is that house prices had gotten out of line due to a speculative bubble. The drop is necessary and inevitable (just like the 2000-2002 stock crash), but it is nonetheless painful as it occurs. It cannot be good for the party in power to have more evidence of a deflating housing bubble just before the election.
PROCEDURE MASKING SUBSTANCE.Tom Maguire objects to my suggestion that objections to the Supreme Court of New Jersey 's recent decision from (nominal) supporters of civil unions are, at bottom, substantive rather than procedural:
My personal opinion is that gay marriage or civil unions is fine if enacted by the state legislature but wrong if crammed down by judicial fiat. How would pollsters, or Mr. Lemieux, score that? Surely I am not alone in believing that process counts.
YOU CAN'T ALWAYS GET WHAT YOU WANT.Ezra, I really, really don't like disagreeing with Peter Bergen on al-Qaeda. You generally should be extremely wary of telling a guy who interviewed bin Laden that he's off-base. But, dude, you asked. Thanks, Ez, you're a good friend.
RISK ASSESSMENT: SCHMITT CRASHES THE PARTY! Ok, not really. Mark Schmitt has swooped in with a worthy intervention into the Hacker-Klein-Yglesiasdiscussion of The Great Risk Shift. Check it out, and wait for Hacker's response tomorrow.