Archive

  • THE SUBSTANCE ABUSE DODGE.

    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). Thus it is no surprise that Mark Foley , after switching from denying his taste for 16-year-old underlings to admitting to them, has found the true culprit in a bottle. I guess drunk IMing is the new drunk dialing. --Ben Adler
  • WHEN IN DOUBT,...

    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? GINGRICH: Well, you can have second thoughts about it, but I think, had they overly aggressively reacted to the initial round, they would have also been accused of gay-bashing. I mean, the original notes had no sexual innuendo, and the parents did not want any action taken. WALLACE: Well, how would it have been gay bashing? GINGRICH: Because it was a male-male relationship... I now must interrupt your guffaw to point out that this comment, as lame as it may appear to...
  • PHOENIX SORT OF RISING, OR NOT.

    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. --Sam Rosenfeld
  • EXFOLEYATING.

    EXFOLEYATING. Noam Scheiber highlights (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. But Reynolds's perch as head of the campaign committee was already becoming extremely uncomfortable, given that his moderate New York district seat is far from safe. As The Hill noted over the summer, Reynolds has been airing reelection ads in his district that take pains not to mention his party affiliation -- an awkward tactic for the guy who's in charge of boosting his party's national prospects this fall. Foleygate just adds another huge headache to an already distracted NRCC head. --Sam Rosenfeld
  • GAMAL GOES NUCLEAR....

    GAMAL GOES NUCLEAR. Last month's annual conference of Egypt's ruling National "Democratic" Party was filled with the usual empty talk about political reform. There was one big surprise, however: Gamal Mubarak , the son of President Hosni Mubarak , called for Egypt to develop peaceful nuclear energy. As this MEMRI "special dispatch" makes clear , Egyptian elites have been calling for a nuclear program for a while now, and some have even called explicitly for the country to develop nuclear weapons. Clearly, the increasingly powerful Gamal, who almost everyone here seems to think is angling to succeed his father as president, is hoping to use this issue to boost his popularity with the Egyptian street. Another angle is that if Egypt does get nuclear power, the regime will be able to stoke fears that radical Islamists would get into power and develop weapons with which they could threaten Israel. Incidentally, many analysts, including yours truly, view Egypt as a test case for the Bush...
  • WAL-MART GETS MEAN....

    WAL-MART GETS MEAN. Hopefully, folks aren't getting tired of hearing me talk Wal-Mart, as odds are the chatter won't let up anytime soon. How could it, when each new day brings news this worrisome? Word from the retailer now is that Wal-Mart is set on converting its workforce to a heavily part-time, salary-capped labor pool. Workers will never receive annual raises if their pay is at or above the cap, unless they move to a higher-paying job category. Wal-Mart says the caps will encourage workers to seek higher-paying jobs with more responsibility.[...] No matter how hard people work, �we won�t get anything else out of it,� said Mr. Gonzalez, who earns $11.18 an hour, or about $23,000 a year, after six years with Wal-Mart. �The message is, if I don�t like it, there is the door. They are trying to hit people who have the most experience so they can leave.� In the confidential memo sent to Wal-Mart�s board last year, M. Susan Chambers, who was recently promoted to be Wal-Mart�s executive...
  • POWER AND PRINCIPLES.

    POWER AND PRINCIPLES. Sebastian Mallaby complains that Democrats are poised to possibly win the House back next month yet have no agenda or philosophical principles on which to govern should they win. As ever, there is a double-standard at work here. Republicans are typically given a pass for governing from an agenda unmoored from their small-government, strong-defense, fiscal responsibility platitudes -- indeed, those platitudes are championed as evidence that the party "knows what it stands for." It�s as if the espousal of principles matters more than adherence to them. Democrats, meanwhile, are expected to have a detailed philosophy and point-by-point plan that�s internally consistent. Power for power�s sake is only acceptable when Republicans rule. Consider two great, recent pieces written about the face of Republican congressional power. The first , by our own Sam Rosenfeld , is perhaps as good a summary of the nature of contemporary congressional power as any I�ve read. The...
  • POLLS, POLLS, POLLS.

    POLLS, POLLS, POLLS. A whole slew of Mason-Dixon polls have been released over the last 24 hours, and most of them suggest Democrats are poised to have a very good year: * In Maryland, Ben Cardin (D) leads Michael Steele (R), 47% to 41% * In Missouri, Jim Talent (R) is tied with Claire McCaskill (D), 43% to 43% * In Montana, Jon Tester (D) leads Conrad Burns (R), 47% to 40% * In New Jersey, Bob Menendez (D) leads Tom Kean Jr. (R), 44% to 41% * In Ohio, Sherrod Brown (D) leads Mike DeWine (R), 45% to 43% * In Pennsylvania, Bob Casey (D) leads Rick Santorum (R), 49% to 40% * In Rhode Island, Sheldon Whitehouse (D) leads Lincoln Chafee (R), 42% to 41% * In Tennessee, Rep. Harold Ford (D) leads Bob Corker (R), 43% to 42% * In Washington, Maria Cantwell (D) leads Mike McGavick (R), 50% to 40%. Democrats need a net gain of six seats to win back the Senate. If all of these races go the Democrats' way (including Missouri, which is now tied), that's a net gain of six. --Steve Benen (...
  • BANDARGATE. I strongly...

    BANDARGATE. I strongly doubt that many Tapped readers follow Bahrani politics closely. But they may be forced to do so soon, if this story blows up. The island kingdom of Bahrain is tiny , with less than 700,000 people (including non-nationals) living in an area only 665 square kilometers in size. That's about four times the size of Washington, D.C. Though nobody can say for sure, up to 70 percent of the Muslims there are thought to be Shi'a; they are an absolute majority in any case. The Sunni Al-Khalifa family rules the country in a liberalizing autocratic fashion; in other words, economic reform has proceeded fairly well while democratic political change has lagged. Shi'a are grossly under-represented in the circles of power, and complain of a variety of official and unofficial discrimination. The country is important, if not vital, to U.S. security because it contains the headquarters of the U.S. Navy's Central Command and the Fifth Fleet. The U.S. has been there since 1948 , so...
  • BAD TIMING.

    BAD TIMING. Boy, was this the wrong weekend for The New York Times to run that criminally weightless Op-Ed from Mark (Slam Book) Halperin about the essential political genius of the Party of Lincoln . First, there are all those administration loyalists running to the air-sickness bag formerly known as Bob Woodward to vomit back up five years of Kool Aid. ( Andy Card ? The ultimate, multi-generational Bush family retainer? That's like Timmy 's being mauled by Lassie .) And then there's the festival of schadenfreude of watching the Republican leadership writhe in what appears to be a vain effort to get its collective hindquarters out of the crack in which Rep. Mark Foley has wedged it, and the equally frenzied contortions of the Republican enablers in the press as they try to explain it all away. Those of us in Boston draw on our own experience with a similar scandal to ask a single question: Who elected Bernard Cardinal Law Speaker of the House? --Charles P. Pierce

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