Archive

  • TALKING TO IRAN AND SYRIA.

    TALKING TO IRAN AND SYRIA. The momentum is building for the U.S. to start talking to Iran and Syria over the fate of Iraq. The latest: apparently the British Foreign Office backs the Baker - Hamilton Commission (a.k.a. the Iraq Study Group ) in talking to the Iranians and Syrians. Iraqi President Jalal Talabani is also on board . There is more at play here than just Iraq, however. The Syrians, feeling stronger after the war in Lebanon, are calling for peace talks with Israel over the Golan Heights, while the Iranians, as Christopher de Bellaigue explains , seek acknowledgment that they are a player in the region that can't be ignored. It's obvious we should talk to Syria. It's much clearer who is in charge there, and the Syrians have repeatedly made clear their willingness to engage. The Iranians are a different case; it's not always clear who is calling the shots, and hardline factions in both countries have a habit of undermining any efforts at rapprochement. So expect the U.S. and...
  • THE DOUG FEITH WING OF THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY.

    THE DOUG FEITH WING OF THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY. From Mike Rubin and Andy McCarthy over at The Corner and Eli Lake of The New York Sun comes word of a truly bizarre NRSC NRCC attack on a Democratic candidate for the PA-10, Chris Carney . Liddy Dole Tom Reynolds 's forces have sent out a mailing accusing Carney of "having failed our nation" by being part of a Pentagon effort to tie Saddam Hussein to al-Qaeda before the war. Now, the substance of the message is, well, true , as I reported in a piece for my former employers, and I suspect that with the exception of the attack on a Democrat, most Tapped readers wouldn't object to the NRCC's characterization. When I hung out with Carney on the stump for an afternoon in Honesdale, Pa., in March, he forthrightly acknowledged that he still believes there's more to the Iraq-al-Qaeda tie than the 9/11 Commission et. al. concluded. However, Carney also advocates an accelerated let-'em-stand-up-and-let-us-get-the-hell-out-of-Iraq position, which is...
  • TO RODHAM OR...

    TO RODHAM OR NOT RODHAM. I've very much bought into the John-McCain -is-unbeatable interpretation of contemporary American politics, so I'm glad to see this poll assuring me that my predictive abilities are absolute shite and that Hillary would pound the guy. CNN's reportage of their own poll, however, must be among the worst analyses I've ever seen: If presidential elections were held today, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton would likely have a comfortable edge over Sen. John McCain, but take away her maiden name and McCain has a better shot of landing in the Oval Office. So say the results of a CNN poll released Friday by Opinion Research Corp., which asked 506 adult Americans whom they preferred among potential 2008 presidential candidates. The margin of error for the survey is plus or minus 4.5 percent. Asked if they preferred Hillary Rodham Clinton to McCain, respondents gave the Democratic New York senator and former first lady a 51 percent to 44 percent advantage over the Republican...
  • ONE LAST BIT ON OBAMA.

    ONE LAST BIT ON OBAMA. On the plus side for his national ambitions, I'm fairly certain that, were he to get elected, his eventual presidential memoirs would be the best since Ulysses S. Grant . The man can write. -- Ezra Klein
  • A MOST CYNICAL...

    A MOST CYNICAL APPRAISAL. Nothing if not shameless, rather than letting his appalling behavior in 2000 lie in dignified silence, Antonin Scalia has decided to speak on the issue again : Georgetown students attending the lecture had questions not only about Scalia�s views on education, but on hot topics such as the sale of medicinal marijuana, campaign finance reform and censorship of high school newspapers. One student asked whether Scalia believed the 2000 decision in Bush v. Gore was an example of judicial activism. In its 7-2 ruling , the court effectively halted the recount of presidential ballots in Florida, resulting in the nomination of George W. Bush as president. "My first response to that question always is, it's six years ago. Get over it!" Scalia said. He then explained that "It surely is not activist to apply the text of the Constitution, which is what the court did." [bold added] First of all, Bush v. Gore was a 5-4 decision. No dissenter joined any part of the per...
  • WHEN THERE'S NO ONE LEFT TO SWIFTBOAT.

    WHEN THERE'S NO ONE LEFT TO SWIFTBOAT. Pierce mentioned this last week, but it deserves all the attention it can get. Kevin Tillman , U.S. Army Ranger and brother of fallen American hero Pat Tillman , joins the ranks of the shrill : Somehow the more soldiers that die, the more legitimate the illegal invasion becomes. Somehow American leadership, whose only credit is lying to its people and illegally invading a nation, has been allowed to steal the courage, virtue and honor of its soldiers on the ground. Let's ask the obvious question before the right wing does. In fact, let's do their work for them. What did Kevin Tillman really do in Iraq and Afghanistan? Did he earn the respect of his colleagues in arms? Or did he behave dishonorably, disgracing the uniform he wore? Why won't the craven liberal media ask those questions? It should be clear that Kevin Tillman, like his brother, is an American hero. Like many other American heroes, he has grown angry over being asked to sacrifice for...
  • A MAN, NOT...

    A MAN, NOT A MOVEMENT. Ok, yet another Tapped post on Obama : I'm happy to see Bob Herbert putting a pin in the burgeoning "Barackobubble." A couple weeks ago, I thought I detected a swell of presidential posturing from the junior senator from Illinois and wrote an LA Times op-ed pointing out that Obama has never been involved in a high profile, competitive campaign, and he hasn't yet expended his political capital on a politically controversial or dangerous fight. Progressives, before fallin either in line or in live, should demand more evidence of his ability to withstand Republican attack and his commitment to progressive reform. The next day, I got a call from one of Obama's press people, who merrily berated me for misreading his boss's Iowa visits and national hires as evidence of interest in a national campaign. A few days later, Obama made the interest public and explicit in Joe Klein 's cover profile of Time . Bad press management strategy, that. There's a real danger here for...
  • DON'T TAKE IT...

    DON'T TAKE IT FROM ME. My latest piece for New York Times Select (sorry, subscription req�d.) looks at the geography of the coming electoral storm of 2006. Some key graphs on the House side of the equation: Blizzard is the most applicable term for the brewing cataclysm. Why? Because if Mother Nature sweeps a new Democratic majority -- or two -- into power in Washington, the disproportionate share of Republican defeats will occur in the Rust Belt states of the Northeast-Midwest corridor. Coupled with isolated twisters in the Plains and a few Western earthquakes, what you have is the formula for a Republican natural disaster north of the Mason-Dixon Line�. Of the 60 House seats most likely to switch to the other party this year, according to the latest rankings by Chuck Todd, editor of the National Journal�s �Hotline� political tipsheet, 53 are held by Republicans and just seven by Democrats. Where are they? Although 39 percent of incumbent House Republicans are Southerners, only seven...
  • WAPO CONTINUES CAMPAIGN FOR GALLAUDET ADMINISTRATION.

    WAPO CONTINUES CAMPAIGN FOR GALLAUDET ADMINISTRATION. I have previously criticized the Washington Post 's coverage of the Gallaudet protest movement against the university's new president as being slanted towards the administration and against the protestors. Well, case in point: today at 2pm they are doing a live chat with the new president, Jane K. Fernandes , on their website, with no countervailing voice from the other side of the issue, even though the clear majority of the Gallaudet community opposes Fernandes. This is after they gave Fernandes a space on the op-ed page, and editorialized in her favor, and subtly favored her in (mostly fair) news articles. Before, I simply chalked this up to the fact that the Post has the same establishmentarian bias as most of the elite media. But the favoritism is becoming so clear and inexplicable I'm racking my brain for a conceivable ulterior motive. --Ben Adler
  • LANCET AND FACE VALIDITY.

    LANCET AND FACE VALIDITY. In a conversation yesterday, a friend told me that he just couldn't accept the Lancet numbers on Iraqi deaths because they seem too high. The study, he felt, had to have cooked the books in some way, even if the method wasn't immediately apparent. My friend's comments echoed those of Fred Kaplan and Michael O'Hanlon , sensible people who have chosen to reject the study for not terribly compelling reasons. It doesn't really matter, the argument goes, how many people have been killed in Iraq as long as we know that it's a lot and that it's getting worse, but it still can't be that many. I have a little bit of empathy for my friend's position. My gut tells me that the number is too high, in an eerily similar way to which my gut tells me that Kenny Rogers' post-season ERA is too low. If someone had forced me to make a guess prior to the release of the study, I probably would have picked a number between 150,000 and 200,000, or maybe a little higher. My guess...

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