Archive

  • HUG-A-BEAR. Jonah...

    HUG-A-BEAR. Jonah writes : It seems to me that if A) we believe that man is responsible for the dire plight of polar bears (or even if he's not) and B) we think the polar bears are worth saving and C) we think that doing so won't have outsized negative consequences elsewhere in the ecosystem, Why not intervene to save polar bears? Would building big, free floating docks help? Would moving polar bears and their families to different areas do the trick? That seems about right. I've little expertise on the severity or reversability of the Coca-Cola mascot's plight, but this sort of thing has worked quite well in other contexts, like the replacement of destroyed of natural reefs with sunken ships reefs. Additionally, the latter are more likely to contain hidden treasure chests. It's really win-win. As a more general point, the environmental movement, for completely correct reasons, tends to focus on stopping bad human behaviors. But given that such solutions are often implemented too late...
  • REDUCING UNWANTED PREGNANCIES AND THE INTERESTS OF WOMEN.

    REDUCING UNWANTED PREGNANCIES AND THE INTERESTS OF WOMEN. Brother Ezra links to a good article by Reason 's Julian Sanchez about demands for compromise in the abortion debate. Readers who are familiar with my work on the subject will know that I agree entirely with Sanchez' opposition to trying to find "middle ground" on the abortion debate. Both of the general lines of "compromise" being advanced -- insisting that abortion is icky and women who get abortions are immoral, and passing a series of regulations that end up creating a highly inequitable regime of abortion-on-demand for affluent women and highly restricted abortion for poor and many rural women -- are very bad on the merits, and represent a practical victory for the forced pregnancy lobby rather than true compromises. I'm not willing to claim that fetuses are "persons," not only because I think it's nonsense but because the vast majority of pro-lifers don't seem to believe it, or at least are not willing to advance policies...
  • JEROME AGAINST HIMSELF.

    JEROME AGAINST HIMSELF. My argument for building a non-southern majority continues to confuse and befuddle some otherwise smart people. Perhaps frustrated by the fact that MyDD�s Chris Bowers pronounced me �utterly vindicated� by the 2006 election results, Jerome Armstrong now argues that Democrats should not single out and criticize �southern conservatives� because when Republicans make hay -- and they have made plenty of hay over the last three decades -- by criticizing �northeastern liberals,� supposedly everyone knows that the GOP adds the �liberal� clarifier just for political cover.
  • MONSTER SUCCESS.

    MONSTER SUCCESS. Now that O.J. Simpson is publishing his quasi-confession If I Did It , I'm looking for a forthcoming memoir by former Rep. Mark Foley that ought to be called My Back Pages . It's no longer true that patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels. The last refuge now is the best-seller list. --Paul Starr
  • CRYSTAL BALL.

    CRYSTAL BALL. It's not often that you get a very clear glimpse of the future so, when you do get it, you should pay attention to it. Now, assuming that the McGyver Solution to the Iraq debacle proves ineffective -- watch Jim Baker make a peace plan out of two paper clips and a flashlight! -- and that, one day, C-Plus Augustus will stop listening to Henry Kissinger talking about the importance of "will" (something I had hoped I would never see again in my lifetime and a concept that the president probably should bounce off his hosts in Vietnam this week just for fun), blame is going to get parceled out pretty thickly. So, in case you folks in the media elite were wondering whether or not all that early cheerleading was going to be enough to immunize y'all, you can stop wondering . It's not. --Charles P. Pierce
  • CRUELTY AND SILENCE.

    CRUELTY AND SILENCE. The New Republic fired me before it published its Iraq symposium. Oh well -- it had been made clear to me that I wouldn't have been invited to contribute anyway. So now I take up my new role: foul-weather critic of its latest spineless Iraq editorial. (In TNR-speak, a "lede.") Among the most annoying of TNR tropes is the flight to meta-analysis as soon as the recognition dawns that the magazine can't win an argument. And here, it pains and saddens me to say, TNR embraces it like a security blanket. First, TNR concedes that nothing it can possibly desire is likely to occur: "The U.S. presence in Iraq will not last long. Perhaps this new political reality will serve as shock therapy, scaring Iraq's warring factions into negotiations that can prevent the worst sectarian warfare. But perhaps not." The "perhaps not" is an intellectual prophylactic: it changes the subject before one can ask what in the world the U.S. could tell the Sunnis and the Shiites that could make...
  • CATASTROPHE KEEPS THEM TOGETHER.

    CATASTROPHE KEEPS THEM TOGETHER. Never let it be said that CIA Director Michael Hayden isn't shrewd. Knowing that media coverage of yesterday's Senate testimony will focus overwhelmingly on General John Abizaid's call for eternal war in Iraq , he discreetly dropped this bombshell about al-Qaeda : Hayden said [al-Qaeda] had lost a series of leaders since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. But the losses have been "mitigated by what is, frankly, a pretty deep bench of low-ranking personnel capable of stepping up to assume leadership positions." OK, so on the one achievement that Bush can claim about the war against al-Qaeda -- the percentage of al-Qaeda's leaders killed and captured -- the director of the CIA finally acknowledges that the measurement is meaningless. The Post piece on that ran on page 22. Arrgh. --Spencer Ackerman
  • Retail Sales Beat Expectations?

    Yes, that is what the NYT headline said about the 0.2 percent decline in sales reported for October. The consensus forecast was a 0.4 percent decline. Of course, September sales were revised down from a drop of 0.4 perrcent to a drop of 0.8 percent. This means that October sales were 0.2 percent below the consensus forecast. This is beating expectations? --Dean Baker
  • A DISAPPOINTING START....

    A DISAPPOINTING START. Joe Conason is right : The race between Murtha and Hoyer present two astonishingly unappealing options. Murtha is hawkish, corrupt, conservative, and a dear friend to the defense industry -- year after year, he's the top congressional recipient of their donations, and he repays them in full. His brave comments on Iraq were aberrational rather than characteristic, and his emergence as the progressive choice is evidence of some very short Democratic memories. Hoyer, however, is fetishistically centrist, corporatist, and at odds with Pelosi . His elevation is likely to make for a profoundly dysfunctional Democratic majority. My personal view is that this is basically an early referendum on Pelosi. Murtha is a loyalist, and a vote for him is a vote for her. That said, for those expecting the Democratic majority to last for a little bit, new wars will emerge, new issues will arise, and new progressives will be required. There's always the hope that Murtha has bought...
  • HEATH SHULER: ACTUALLY A DEMOCRAT.

    HEATH SHULER: ACTUALLY A DEMOCRAT. As the invocations keep coming, I rise to defend Congressman-elect Heath Shuler , who must be getting damned sick and tired of having his marvelous underdog win characterized by the side that got skunked last week as a de facto win for its principles, and even by his own , winning side as a shrewd tactical abandonment of its own. Here's a very good local account of Shuler's win. Shuler didn't win because he was slightly less conservative than Charles Taylor , the Republican he whacked. He won because the party Mr. Taylor represented has so revolted the American public that the "R" next to someone's name was enough. (And God help anyone if the actual Republican president brought his leprous public image by to call.) This was how Taylor lost in Asheville and Lincoln Chaffee lost in Providence, and it's the only thing that those two have in common. Democrats won last week because they were Democrats and also because they were reckoned by most of the...

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