Archive

  • IF WE'VE LOST FAREED ZAKARIA ...

    IF WE'VE LOST FAREED ZAKARIA ... Some slightly belated weekend thoughts on Iraq: As Kevin Drum noted on Sunday, Fareed Zakaria of Newsweek (not to mention PostGlobal and his own TV show ) has become a bellwether for establishment views on foreign policy. And now, he no longer thinks the U.S. can do enough good to merit our commitment to Iraq. This is a big deal, because Zakaria is influential and tends to have a nose for which way the wind is blowing -- though perhaps he's a little late on this one. In other Iraq developments, speculation that the Baker - Hamilton commission (a.k.a. the Iraq Study Group) will recommend some sort of "soft partition" of Iraq along ethno-confessional lines has been front-page news here in Egypt . Since people here have a hard time imagining that America could screw up so badly, this news will be seen by many as confirmation that there was an American plot all along to divide Iraq. Baker is now saying , however, that it will be impossible to draw lines...
  • SYMPATHY FOR THE...

    SYMPATHY FOR THE SCALIA . The New York Times is running a superb multi-part series about the increasing number of legal privileges and breaks being given to religious institutions, which has generated some attention and commentary . Today's article about the tax breaks given to religious institutions -- even when they involve clearly secular functions like retirement communities -- is also a must-read. What's striking in reading the series so far is the extent to which these special privileges have nothing to do with anything that could be plausibly called "religious freedom"--it's not clear how providing basic legal protections to administrators at religious colleges, for example, threatens the core expression of religious belief. (And the story about the aspiring nun who was fired because she contracted a serious illness, in addition to illustrating the abuses of religious freedom exemptions, should also remind us that the American system of tying healthcare to employment is awful...
  • TIME FOR ANOTHER LEFT-RIGHT ALLIANCE!

    TIME FOR ANOTHER LEFT-RIGHT ALLIANCE! Following up on the questions as to whether speech suppressed through perceived intimidation truly threatens free expression everywhere, I await the uproar over revelations that Abe Foxman and other prominent Jewish leaders "convinced" the Polish Embassy to cancel Tony Judt 's talk on the Israel lobby for being "too controversial." The Embassy killed the event not on theoretical grounds, but in response to actual calls by prominent Jews, and it happened in New York, not Germany. Somehow, though, I don't foresee it generating much alarm. Thanks to reader J.A. for the tip. -- Ezra Klein
  • JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: TACTICAL RETREAT.

    JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: TACTICAL RETREAT. Matt 's happy to hear the news that the U.S. military may finally be getting serious about counterinsurgency doctrine. But he hopes this newfound commitment won't be taken by anybody -- not the military, not policymakers, not the public -- as the end-all and be-all of lessons learned from the Iraq debacle. --The Editors
  • XYBERNAUT.

    XYBERNAUT. To get the full scoop on the awesome tech company on whose board George Allen sat in the late nineties and whose stock options Allen repeatedly failed to disclose to Congress (according to a new AP investigation), definitely read Garance 's piece from the September print issue of the Prospect . --Sam Rosenfeld
  • GO WEST.

    GO WEST. On Sunday, the New York Times Magazine ran a piece by Mark Sundeen on the Democrats and their rising fortunes out West, with a focus on Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer . Good reading and, obviously, a trend which I agree is crucial to, and an indicator of, the Democrats� revival nationally. And it�s not just Schweitzer and Montana, folks: If Bill Ritter , who in recent polls has a comfortable lead in Colorado�s governor race, wins next month, the Democrats will have five governors (at least: Democrat Dina Titus has an outside shot in Nevada of making it six) in the eight Interior West states by January 2007. Six years ago, they had none. --Tom Schaller
  • HELP AMERICA BELIEVE IT CAN VOTE.

    HELP AMERICA BELIEVE IT CAN VOTE. E.J. Dionne has a good column today about H.R 515 , Rep. Rush Holt 's augmentation of the Help America Vote Act to ensure paper trails, create routine, random audits of two percent of precincts, and keep voting machines offline where they can't be remotely tampered with. The bill currently has 219 sponsors (which means, a majority of the House), a fair chunk of them dragging an "R" behind their names. That no similar legislation has yet been passed is a remarkable -- and to some, telling -- shame. Whether you believe in tampered machines or eschew such theories, that our elections should be heavily fortified against suspicion seems rather obvious. Obvious to the Democrats, with their sour memories of 2000 (and Ohio 2004), but also to the Republicans, who believe they've detected their own instances of vote tampering. Protecting against doubts in our democracy doesn't mean you buy into theories about fraud or theft: It just means you acknowledge that...
  • FOLEY THE SCAPEGOAT.

    FOLEY THE SCAPEGOAT. So, if the GOP loses Congress next month, will it be because of Foleygate? Were the Republicans on the upswing and set to hold on to their majorities as of September 28, when the scandal broke? We're going to be hearing arguments along these lines preemptively for the next month and (depending on what actually happens on November 7) possibly for a long while after. In a must-read post over at Midterm Madness , Steve Benen takes a close look at the data and says, basically, it just ain't so. Be sure to take a look . --Sam Rosenfeld
  • TOO MUCH INFORMATION

    TOO MUCH INFORMATION . Data, questions, and commentary abound on the North Korean nuclear test. Most interesting to me is how the bomb performed. The inital Russian report indicated the detection of an explosion of 5-15 kilotons, a respectable weapon. Later reports from French, South Korean, and American sources indicate a much smaller blast, around .55 kilotons (a kiloton equals 1000 tons of TNT). If the latter reports are right, the explosion was either not nuclear or was a failure. See Defense Tech for a discussion of the possibility that the explosion was a dud. This leaves a couple of questions, the first regarding the Russian reaction. Were the Russians lying, or have their analytical capabilities collapsed to the degree that they couldn't even accurately assess the detonation of a weapon on their own border? I'd bet on the second, since they must have known that other states would quickly produce their own estimates. I suppose it's possible that the Russians may even have been...
  • OUR TERRORIST

    OUR TERRORIST . Be sure to read Peter Kornbluh 's Nation article on the curious case of Luis Posada Carriles . Posada is suspected of blowing up a Cuban jetliner in 1976, killing 73 people. He has a history of anti- Castro violence, and worked for the CIA during the 1960s and 1970s. Posada has been in the United States for some time, yet the Bush administration has refused to turn him over to the Venezuelan government on the grounds that Venezuela might extradite him to Cuba, which could result in torture. That is to say, in something of a reverse of "extraordinary rendition," the United States is refusing to send a suspected terrorist to Cuba because he might be tortured. The U.S.'s refusal to extradite Posada would be laudable if it stemmed from a genuine desire to prevent the torture of a criminal suspect. Of course, it does not; the Bush administration has refused to declare Posada a terrorist, and has refused to deny his extradition (which would put the responsibility of...

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