THE OP-ED DOJO. Wandering through the nation's op-ed pages is like ambling through a dojo. Each writer has his own particular style, technique, finishing move. There's Tom Friedman, who rushes in with the Implausible Conversational Anecdote, links it to an Off-Topic Invocation Of World Travels, and finishes you with a Confusing Metaphor From Above. Or there's Maureen Dowd, who deploys Unfounded Personal Speculation mixed with Confusing Allegories till she's set up her killing blow: Insinuation of Character Defect. It's impressive stuff.
SERIOUSLY CONFUSING. Last week's puzzling editorial from The New Republic called on the United States to "move ruthlessly to prevent Iran from acquiring the deadliest arsenal of all" but couldn't quite seem to say whether or not this was a call for war. This week's edition fails to clarify matters, asking rhetorically "Will the West finally get ruthlessly serious about Iran? (No, bombing is not the only instrument of policy we have.)"
STEELE AT IT. Well, that didn�t take long: As I predicted yesterday, Michael Steele would somehow turn his media blunder around and try to blame the media, and sure enough here come this first volley, lobbed directly at the Post�s Dana Milbank.
THE NUMBERS GAME. Here�s some interesting polling on the Middle East from The New York Times. Fully 64 percent of the public thinks there will never "come a time when Israel and the Arab nations settle their differences and live in peace." As a general matter, I think people are way too inclined to say that things will never happen. Lots of crazy stuff happens -- in 1910 none of these countries even existed and only crazy people thought they ever would.
JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: JUSTICE BYPASSED. On Tuesday, the Senate passed a bill making it illegal to take a minor across a state border for the purposes of evading parental consent and notification laws regarding abortion. If you think parental consent regulations are reasonable in the first place, this measure will of course seem like a common-sense way to bolster those state laws. And one reason those parental consent laws do strike so many people as reasonable is that they all have built-in judicial bypass procedures for minors who truly can't tell their family about their pregnancy without risking abuse or some other problem.
RUMSFELD: DIFFERENT THINGS ARE DIFFERENT.ViaAndrew Sullivan, Don Rumsfeldgets asked whether or not Iraq is close to a civil war and replies, "You know, I thought about that last night, and just musing over the words, the phrase, and what constitutes it. If you think of our Civil War, this is really very different."
WHERE'S THE META-MESSAGE? One would have hoped that the announcement of the Capitol Hill Democratic confab scheduled for today -- the one at which the Democrats will lay out their election agenda -- would have brought a sense of excitement to yours truly when she read about it. (Still I look to find a reason to believe...)
But when I read of the plan in today's Associated Press story by Liz Sidoti, I found yet another laundry list of fix-it items, all worthy, but none of them big enough to raise gooseflesh on the arms of likely voters.
If we use protectionist barriers to artificially prop up health care prices in the United States, then people go overseas for health care. It's extremely wasteful (it's much cheaper and better for people's health to have the medical procedures done here), but that is what happens when you have protectionism.
Several comments and e-mails on my last post on trade expressed confusion about restrictions on highly educated foreign workers in the United States. (There was one complaint about repetition, as long as the press repeats the error, I will repeat the complaint.)
These restrictions take two forms. The first is formal licensing restrictions. The highest paid professionals, like medicine, law, dentistry, and accounting all have licensing requirements. These requirements present a confusing patchwork (in most areas, each state has its own requirements) that makes it extremely difficult for foreign professionals to get licensed to practice their profession in the United States.
ANNIE IN '06. I don't want to step on brother Sargent's turf here but, I'm sorry, this is just nuts, even by the Olympian fruitcake standards of the person in question. I'd forgotten that it is permissible to say anything about Bill Clinton, but this is straight out of the cafe car of the crazy train. (And does Ann Coulter, of all people, want to open up issues of public sexuality or questions of gender? Sometimes, the fish is just too big for the barrel, I'm just sayin'.) What exactly is the rule about putting public crackpots on television?