THE THORNY ROSE OF TEXAS. The reasons liberals will miss former Texas Governor Ann Richards, who died yesterday of cancer, are many -- not least among them her biting wit and willingness to turn it on the Bushes. She first caught the nation's eye as the keynote speaker at the 1988 Democratic National Convention, at which she took on the transplant-to-Texas and bumbling George Herbert Walker Bush, playing on the Connecticut native's patrician roots. "Poor George," she said in her trademark twang, "he can't help it; he was born with a silver foot in his mouth."
OH, THE HORROR. It's nice that the administration's Torture Enabling Act of 2006 -- a provision of the Omnibus Gin-Up the Crazee Base bill -- may well get sunk by its own side, and equally spiffy that the last of the scales seem to have fallen from the eyes of Colin "Day Late, Dollar Short" Powell. However, it seems to me that the struggle over this issue is distracting from the equally atrocious attempts to legitimize retroactively what are pretty clearly impeachable offenses -- namely, the president's brazen law-breaking with regard to warrantless electronic surveillance.
AIRING THEIR DIRTY LAUNDRY.Ezra's nice grab of the Verizon-NSA connection from Raw Story happily recalls the glory days of Bush Scandals Past -- specifically, the long, complicated and very unresolved Bush 41 jiggery pokery involving the Banco Nazionale del Lavoro and its possible role in using agricultural credits to arm...wait for it...Saddam Hussein's Iraq, and the subsequent efforts of the Department of Justice in stonewalling the investigations thereof.
THE WAR ON TERROR/ISLAM/RADICAL ISLAM/BROWN PEOPLE. Last night, Steve Clemons hosted an evening with George Soros. Held at The Metropolitan Club -- which initially turned me away for lacking a tie, and only admitting me once I'd radically enhanced my elegance with the finest in $4 neckwear sold by the umbrella stand at 17th Street and I -- the evening was dominated by an argument pitting the dynamic duo of Mort Kondracke and Adrian Wooldridge against Soros on the acceptability of the War on Terror metaphor.
ADVENTURES IN PICKING UP THE DAMN PHONE.George Will is scandalized today by page 38 of "the American Prospect, an impeccably progressive magazine," which carries "a full-page advertisement denouncing something responsible for �lies, deception, immorality, corruption, and widespread labor, human rights and environmental abuses� and for having brought �great hardship and despair to people and communities throughout the world.�" That something? Coca-Cola. Dum dum dum!
LES ETUDIANTS. Over at Open University, David Bell makes an argument about Harvard's decision to drop early admissions:
Two cheers for Harvard for getting rid of early admissions.... Yet if Harvard really wants to do something to make admissions fairer, it should consider doing away with the most inane and manipulable part of the present process: the application essay.
One of the themes that has arisen in the recent Paul Krugman inspired debate on middle class living standards is the possibility that the consumer price index (CPI) misses improvements in the quality of various goods and services, and therefore overstates the true rate of inflation. This would then mean that "real" wages and income have risen more than official data show.
I have spent far more time on this issue than I would have liked. In the mid-nineties there was an effort inspired by Alan Greenspan and spearheaded by the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan to cut Social Security benefits based on this claim.
"OUTRAGEOUS AND DISHONEST."The Washington Post's Daphna Linzer has one hell of an aggressive piece out today on the IAEA's apoplectic reaction to the House Intelligence Committee's recent report on Iran's nuclear capabilities.
Yesterday's letter, a copy of which was provided to The Washington Post, was the first time the IAEA has publicly disputed U.S. allegations about its Iran investigation. The agency noted five major errors in the committee's 29-page report, which said Iran's nuclear capabilities are more advanced than either the IAEA or U.S. intelligence has shown.
IT'S ALRIGHT, MA BELL.Ezra's post on Verizon's cronyish involvement in the administration's spying program prompts me to mention this piece by Zander Dreyer that we ran a few months ago, which makes a useful argument drawing the connection between the adminsitration's pro-monopoly line on telecom issues and its interest in domestic surveillance. It's worth a look.
JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: COLD CASE? The New Jersey Senate race is getting mighty ugly, with a Republican U.S. prosecutor opening an investigation into property leased by Bob Menendez and Democrats whispering about dropping the candidate. How strong are the ethics charges? Midterm Madness's own Thurmon Harttakes a look.