Archive

  • 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
  • �TALENTED FABRICATOR� GHORBANIFAR ENLISTS CHENEY.

    �TALENTED FABRICATOR� GHORBANIFAR ENLISTS CHENEY. We knew that Iran Contra arms dealer and info. peddler Manucher Ghorbanifar had managed to meet with Pentagon officials and with Congressman Curt Weldon in his quest to get back on the U.S. payroll as an intelligence asset in the wake of 9/11. We did not know that vice president Dick Cheney was part of the plot. This from Bob Woodward �s State of Denial : In Iraq, [chief Iraq weapons inspector] David Kay had a call from Scooter Libby. �The vice president wants to know if you�ve looked at this area,� Libby said. �We have indications -- and here are the geocoordinates -- that something is buried there.� Kay went to the mapping and imagery experts on his team. They pulled up the satellite and other surveillance photos of the location. It was in the middle of Lebanon. �That�s where we�re going next,� joked one of the imagery experts. At another point Kay got a cable from the CIA that the vice president wanted him to send someone to...
  • DOUBLE-EDGED EXECUTIVE.

    DOUBLE-EDGED EXECUTIVE. John Quiggan makes a point that should be obvious to conservative supporters of enhanced executive power, especially as regards combatting terrorism: So, for those who support the bill, it might be useful to consider the standard thought experiment recommended to all who support dictatorial powers for a leader on their own side. Think about what the other side might do with these powers. For concreteness, suppose Hillary Clinton is elected in 2008 with a Democratic majority in Congress, and appoints someone like Janet Reno as her Attorney-General, and that some rightwing extremist takes a potshot at her. Suppose that the unsuccessful terrorist turns out to have drifted widely through the organisations that Clinton famously called the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy, ranging from organisations with a track record of association with terrorism, like Operation Rescue and the militia movement, to those of the mainstream right, not engaged in violence, but prone to the...
  • HUMAN DIGNITY.

    HUMAN DIGNITY. Three weeks ago, President Bush pointed out that Article III of the Geneva Conventions prohibits "outrages against human dignity", a term that he found too imprecise to guide detainee policy. As Rodger Payne notes, the Bush administration has felt free to use the term "human dignity" in other contexts without feeling a need for clarification. In the National Security Strategy of the United States , Section IIA: The United States must defend liberty and justice because these principles are right and true for all people everywhere. These nonnegotiable demands of human dignity are protected most securely in democracies. The United States Government will work to advance human dignity in word and deed, speaking out for freedom and against violations of human rights and allocating appropriate resources to advance these ideals. President Bush also made use of the term "human dignity" in his UN speech of September 21, 2004, suggesting that a belief in human dignity led to a...

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