GROVER SPEAKS, WE LISTEN. The Prospect hosted a breakfast with conservative enforcer and liberal bogeyman Grover Norquist today and, let's just be honest -- the man gives good quotes. No wonder reporters like to call him up. He also took an obvious delight in taking on a room full of liberals. Some of his answers were insightful, some informative, some nuts, some the utterances of a man deep in denial. Which is to say, you could hardly have hoped for a livelier breakfast guest. A few notes:
INORDINATE FEAR OF COMMUNISM. The harder I think about it, the less I understand why Bill Perry and Ashton Carter want to bomb North Korea to stop them from testing the Taepodong 2 missile. They say we don't need to worry that the DPRK will retaliate since "an invasion of South Korea would bring about the certain end of Kim Jong Il's regime within a few bloody weeks of war, as surely he knows." But by the same token, he surely knows that launching a nuclear missile at the United States would bring about the certain end of his regime. So what are we worried about?
PUBLIC HEALTH ANNOUNCEMENT. Don't use your cellphone during a lightning storm. Contrary to popular belief, getting struck by lightning isn't nearly the worst that can happen to you. Generally, the high resistance of your skin works to ground the blast, leaving you little more than singed. According to a new study, however, the presence of a phone disrupts the transmission process, vastly increasing the likelihood of serious internal injury. The findings are particularly on the mind this morning as D.C. experienced an absolutely epic thunderstorm last night.
HOUSES, POX ON. The really great thing about the Daily Kos versus New Republic war is that the more each side opens their mouths, the worse you think of them. Markos's initial impulse to stay silent in the face of Chris Suellentrop's allegations seemed sound. Suellentrop didn't really have the goods. Let some time pass and the goods would either surface or not and there was nothing worth saying about it. But then Jason Zengerle started spinning a rather implausible conspiracy theory.
SOFT BALANCING. In an important post on the TNR soccer blog, Alex Massie notes that it's not just the World Cup we're losing, American performance in international athletic competitions generally has been poor in recent years. He asks, "So what, fellow Goal Posters, is it about the United States that makes this country so apparently and congenitally hopeless at team sports?" In a later postBrian Sinkoff observes that, among other things, we were beset by very unfortunate officiating. The same thing happened to USA Basketball in the 2004 olympics in Athens. Coincidence? I think not.
NPR did a piece this morning on doctors' pay that leaves you wondering why they get taxpayers dollars. The basic point was that doctors, especially primary care physicians, are struggling. The news hook was a new survey that showed that doctors' net (after malpractice) pay is not keeping pace with inflation.
Suppose that the senators who support a quick withdrawal from Iraq got in the habit of saying that the United States should get out of Iraq because losing 100 U.S. soldiers a day is an unacceptable price for the occupation. Would the media simple report this claim without comment? Or, would they point out that these senators apparently don't realize that the fatality rate is approximately 2 per day?
My guess is that every story that noted the claim that 100 soldiers a day are being killed would correct this assertion based on an authoritative source on the causality count. The media would probably also run numerous stories that reported on the fact that the proponents of a hasty withdrawal have no idea what they are talking about. This would be good journalism.
I COME NOT TO BURY TNR... Consider this a "before we get too far" post. It should be said, amidst Markos's assault on TNR, that no magazine where the publisher just penned a Gore 2008 endorsement should really be considered "on the other side" or the "Joe Lieberman" weekly. Ryan Lizza's recent work on George Allen's neoconfederate sympathies has been superb, anyone on the left who has the slightest interest in Iraq should be reading Spencer Ackerman's every word, and the magazine is, in general, a strong and forceful advocate for progressive domestic policies.
CAN THIS MAN SOLVE POVERTY? He's good. Better, in fact, than you remember. I just got back from a National Press Club luncheon where former VP candidate John Edwards gave the first substantive policy address of his yet-unannounced 2008 candidacy. News that Edwards can command a crowd's attention is scarcely news at all, so I'll not dwell on that. Nor will anyone be particularly shocked -- though some will be enthused, and others inspired -- to hear that Edwards wishes to make the elimination of poverty a national crusade. Here's what is new: