UNCIVIL MILITARY RELATIONS.Andrew Bacevich has a nice discussion of the dysfunctional state of civil-military relations during Donald Rumsfeld's term at Secretary of Defense. State of Denial has served to turn over a nasty log in Washington.
SPOTLIGHT ON DENNY. The Washington Timeseditorial is bad enough, but the real sign that things are beginning to fall apart for the House leadership is this new John Boehnerinterview in which the majority leader makes it very, very explicit that this is all on Hastert. "I believe I talked to the Speaker and he told me it had been taken care of.
GOTV FOR YOU AND ME. With the GOP engaged in an implosion so total that one imagines it must be purposeful (did Bill Frist really call for rapprochement with the Taliban? I mean, he's actually right, but yikes), there are few refuges left for electoral pessimists like myself. But of those remaining, the GOP's vaunted GOTV advantage looms largest.
HUMANITARIAN. I think Yglesias goes too easy on Eric Posner'sWashington Post op-ed attack on humanitarian intervention. Posner invokes Somalia, Kosovo, and Iraq as evidence that "experience shows that humanitarian war is an oxymoron." This can fairly be argued of Iraq 2003, but I'm unaware of any compelling evidence that the intervention in Somalia in 1992-3 failed to increase living standards for Somalis, at least for as long as the United Nations forces stayed.
One of the favorite examples of economists who argue that the consumer price index (CPI) is missing quality improvments in new goods and services, and therefore understating the increase in living standards, is the great new drugs that have been developed in the last quarter century. That is why it is interesting to read an article in the Washington Post reporting on a study showing that the new generation of antipsychotics (price tag $10 billion a year) is not better than the old drugs that they replaced.
It sounds like the CPI has been overstating the increase in living standards.
In a piece ironically titled "A Party Without Principles," Washington Post columnist Sebastian Mallaby performed the old "Social Security and Medicare Trick." BTP regulars know the routine well by now. The basic story is that all the projections show that the Social Security program is fundamentally sound. According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, the program can pay every penny of benefits through the year 2046, with no changes whatsoever. The changes needed to keep the program fully funded over its 75 year projection period are no larger than the changes made in each of the decades from the fifties to the eighties.
THE SUBSTANCE ABUSE DODGE. As Bob Packwood discovered a few years back, now that substance abuse is (correctly) viewed as an illness rather than a sign of moral degeneracy, one can blame one's actual moral degenaracy on substance abuse to soften a public fall from grace. Not any old substance will do, mind you: crack might turn off suburbanites, heroin might evoke the specter of AIDS, and coke might seem too rockstarrish. Plus, then you're admitting to breaking the law. Alcohol, on the other hand, has the middle-American acceptability (and legality) to strike the right balance (provided that plying your under-age pages with alcohol wasn't part of your attempts to seduce them).
WHEN IN DOUBT, BLAME THE QUEERS. If you ask Newt Gingrich why the Republican House leadership kept mum on the predatory practices of Rep. Mark Foley, he'll tell you it was the fault of all those gay people who don't like to be called names. At least, that's pretty much what he told Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday:
WALLACE: But during all those months, they left Foley in the House Republican leadership. They left him as the head of the congressional caucus dealing with exploited children. No second thoughts about that?
PHOENIX SORT OF RISING, OR NOT. Certainly Ari Berman's big piece in The Nation on the Democracy Alliance -- the would-be white knight group of liberal super-donors who set out to fund the vast left-wing conspiracy -- is a must-read (and, frankly, a somewhat courageous feat on Ari's part). There's a lot going on in his account, and certain strands of argument he makes about what's gone wrong with the Alliance I find more convincing than others. But the whole piece is very informative and conveys an apt sense of frustration about the whole thing.
EXFOLEYATING.Noam Scheiberhighlights (with suitable amusement) the early signs that Republicans are going to be dogged by "concerned citizens"-style groups regarding Foleygate; meanwhile, Josh Marshall makes a big-picture case for why this scandal is going to devastate the GOP. His point about Tom Reynolds deserves elaboration. Reynolds is caught in the middle of the cover-up story, which is bad enough, and even worse given his crucially important role as NRCC chairman.