Archive

  • HUH. Word...

    HUH. Word on the street is that Mark Warner will make a surprise announcement at 11am ruling out a presidential run. Stay tuned... -- Ezra Klein
  • EXPORTING AMERICAN VALUES.

    EXPORTING AMERICAN VALUES. Today in Baghdad, according to the Associated Press, gunmen stormed a Sunni television station and killed 11 people. "It was the second attack on a television station in the capital in as many weeks," reports AP writer David Rising . No need here for some sardonic, smart-ass comment about the success of Iraq's democracy experiment. Suffice it to say that whatever they've got by way of 1st Amendment-style protections in the vaunted Constitution of theirs are, in the present situation, pretty meaningless. Of course, once President George W. Bush gets around to signing the Military Commissions Act of 2006, which as already passed both houses of Congress, whatever we've got, in that vaunted U.S. Constitution of ours, by way of 1st Amendment protections will be rendered pretty meaningless. The president has already reserved for himself the right to declare anybody -- citizen or not -- an "enemy combatant," a category the president claims to lack standing for...
  • YOUTUBE THROUGH THE AGES.

    YOUTUBE THROUGH THE AGES. There's an interesting piece by Sam Howe Verhovek in today's L.A. Times about trackers, those (typically young) campaign staffers tasked with carrying audio or audio-visual equipment to their opponents' public events and taping their every utterance. Their goal is simple: Trail after opponents in hopes of catching them saying something contradictory, stupid or malicious -- or trifecta: all three! S.R. Sidarth stands as America's most famous tracker, at least for the moment. But he's certainly not alone. Thinking about trackers made me wonder how history might have turned out in the days before electronic media if, instead, there had been YouTube and videocameras. In 1860, for example (as Richard Hofstadter noted in his classic book, The American Political Tradition ), Abraham Lincoln 's speeches in pro-slavery parts of the country would have been easily and perhaps fatally contrasted with sentiments he expressed in abolitionist regions. Presumably, a...
  • Old Europe vs. the Great American Jobs Machine

    Everyone knows that the dynamic U.S. economy generates new jobs at a much faster pace than the sclerotic economies of "Old Europe." Well everyone is wrong . Since 2000, Old Europe (the EU-15) have generated jobs at a 0.9 percent annual rate compared to a 0.7 percent rate in the U.S.. This follows a decade in which job creation was considerably more rapid in the U.S. than Europe, but for at least the last half decade, Old Europe has been winning the job creation race. --Dean Baker
  • AMERICAN POWER. ...

    AMERICAN POWER. Responding to a relatively unobjectionable Tom Friedman column calling for "Russia and China [to] get over their ambivalence about U.S. power", Matt notes that "ambivalence about U.S. power is a natural thing for Russia and China to feel." More than that, particularly for China, concern over US power is a natural way to feel. After all, it wasn't that long ago that some nobody named Paul Wolfowitz drafted a document for then-Defense Secretary Dick Cheney arguing that "America�s political and military mission in the post-cold-war era will be to ensure that no rival superpower is allowed to emerge in Western Europe, Asia or the territories of the former Soviet Union." In other words, US foreign policy should be explicitly aimed at stopping other large countries from becoming competing superpowers. Do you think China, with four-and-a-half times our population, thinks America should be the most powerful and dominant country in the world, forevermore? Or Russia, with their...
  • LIBERTY SUNDAY.

    LIBERTY SUNDAY. The crazy train is coming to town! I'd like to thank Governor Willard-Mitt Romney (R-Chameleon) for inviting these fine folks to gather right in the heart of that part of town where secular American democracy was birthed, especially now that his national party is attempting to put out a sexual bonfire at least partly by smothering it with the party's gay officials and constituents. I'd also like to thank him for demonstrating to every thinking American that he plans to run for president firmly on the Australopithicine end of the ticket. Since his Lieutenant Governor seems to think that lawyers should be held to account for the clients they are dutybound to represent, it seems only fair to inquire if she'll be waving her arms and answering the altar call of Republican Jesus . --Charles P. Pierce
  • LOST BEFORE TRANSLATION....

    LOST BEFORE TRANSLATION. This is the sort of statistic that I simply cannot understand: Five years after Arab terrorists attacked the United States, only 33 FBI agents have even a limited proficiency in Arabic, and none of them work in the sections of the bureau that coordinate investigations of international terrorism, according to new FBI statistics. Counting agents who know only a handful of Arabic words -- including those who scored zero on a standard proficiency test -- just 1 percent of the FBI's 12,000 agents have any familiarity with the language, the statistics show. There is, of course, a why here, which has to do with the hiring protocols of the FBI: Gulotta and other officials said several factors limit the number of foreign speakers who can become agents at the FBI. Special agents, for example, must be U.S. citizens. They also must undergo background checks that are much more difficult to pass if the candidate has relatives or friends overseas. I once met a professor who...
  • STOP! THIEF!

    STOP! THIEF! I got your pre-emptive strike right here . With James Wolcott having declared war on this particular piece of soon-to-be-published-by-the-soulless offal, I feel it incumbent upon me to note that, if Dinesh D'Souza is passing off that cheap wisecrack about Tip O'Neill resembling the federal government ("big, fat, and out of control") as his own, he's not only a disreputable intellectual vandal, he's a dishonest one, as well. The line famously originated with John Leboutillier , a crackpot rightist legacy millionnaire from Long Island who served one term in Congress before the voters fired him, apparently on the very simple grounds that he was a horse's ass. This contemporary account contains the remark in question. Now, "The Boot" went on to nibble on even bigger lumps of the Crazy Cheese, as this story makes pretty plain. Nevertheless, his snarkery about O'Neill was probably his most lasting contribution to American politics, and he deserves better than having it...
  • AN ESTABLISHMENT OF...

    AN ESTABLISHMENT OF RELIGION. If you've yet to take in the extraordinary New York Times series on the business of religion that Scott flagged yesterday, I urge you to take a look before it gets locked up behind the Times 's pay-for-play archive walls. The multitude of exemptions enjoyed by religious organizations and their pastors that business reporter Diana B. Henriques has chronicled is truly amazing. Did you know that the Rev. Rick Warren (he of The Purpose-Driven Life ) enjoys a tax exemption on his housing? Pastor Warren argued that the tax break is essential to poorly paid clergy members who serve society. The tax break is not available to the staff at secular nonprofit organizations whose scale and charitable aims compare to those of religious ministries like Pastor Warren's church, or to poorly paid inner-city teachers and day care workers who also serve their communities. The great state of Florida seems to pop up time and again in the series. Henriques reports that Governor...
  • THE FORCED PREGNANCY...

    THE FORCED PREGNANCY JUSTIFICATION THAT DARES NOT SPEAK ITS NAME : Jill Filipovic finds noted crank Bill Napoli arguing that "[i]f you vote to repeal [South Dakota's unconstitutional abortion ban], you'll be voting for the death of 800 babies that didn't have anything to do with rape or incest" and "[i]f you love babies, and see those cute little babies in the park, grocery store, mall, or cafe, think very carefully about your vote to repeal." Napoli (of " sodomized virgins " fame) is trying to argue that -- while he supports a rape or incest exemption -- a draconian ban is better than no ban. But his defense of these positions is rife with the kind of gross illogic and internal inconsistency that are endemic to the American anti-choice movement . First of all, in terms of moral standing no fetuses (or "babies") have anything to do with "rape or incest" -- their mothers may be victims of these acts, but that's a different issue. (Which is reflected in the fact that nobody thinks that...

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