WHAT ABOUT BOB? I had been hoping to do a short, humorous item for our print magazine this fall about how amidst all the "culture of corruption" hype this year, the two most flamboyantly corrupt pols of them all, Ohio's Bob Ney and Louisiana's William Jefferson, were actually both poised to win re-election assuming November rolled along before their indictments did. Tragically, as Steve Benendiscusses over at Midterm Madness, Ney has finally forfeited his race against time (and pending legal action), and is calling it quits.
FLAT-FOOTED JOE. The recent news that Joe Lieberman is abandoning some portions of his late-campaign field effort seems like a stunning, late-game admission of defeat. What it is, rather, is an admission that Lieberman got caught flat-footed by the Lamont insurgency much earlier than this week.
SOUTH ASIA: THE NEXT MIDDLE EAST? Given the turmoil in the Middle East, the mounting nuclear-tinged tensions in South Asia have been largely ignored in the United States, even after India and Pakistan each withdrew their diplomats from the other country last week, just two days after the House approved a nuclear assistance package for India. The technology transfer is being sold as a peaceful-use energy deal.
THE NEW MINIMUM WAGE CONSENSUS. Bloomberg's got a good article on the wide array of prominent economists coming around on the minimum wage. While the profession as a whole used to be basically unified in opposition, research emerging in the early '90s broke that consensus, and strong job growth after the Clinton increase further calmed their fears.
JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: LEARNED AGGRESSIVENESS.Ezraexplains why less is at stake in tomorrow's outcome in Connecticut than people realize, because the truly significant achievement on the part of netroots and activists has already been won.
HILLARY HATING: IT'S NOT JUST FOR REPUBLICANS ANYMORE. �Lying b**** . . . shrew . . . Machiavellian . . . evil, power-mad witch . . . the ultimate self-serving politician.� So said the grassroots Democrats who were part of New Hampshire pollster Dick Bennet's focus groups. And this is New Hampshire, Hillary's strong primary state, not Iowa, where she's already trailing John Edwards in the polls.
RICE ON IRAQ. In an awesome bit of goalpost-moving, the secretary of state can now claim for Iraq that it won't be Iran:
Iraq is not on track to become another Iran despite the disconcerting images last week of Iraqis burning American flags and chanting "Death to America," Secretary of State Rice said yesterday.
"I have no doubt that this is an Iraqi government and an Iraq that is going to be a fierce fighter in the war against terrorism, because they themselves are experiencing the effects of terror on their population," Ms. Rice said. "I have no doubt that this is going to be a government that is on the right side in the war on terror."
WEEPIN' JOE STILL AT IT. "The point I was trying to make was about how we disagree. My concern was, and remains, that if opponents or supporters of the war go beyond disagreeing to exploiting the war for partisan political purposes, much like Republicans did to Max Cleland on homeland security, we could lose more than an election. We could put our mission in Iraq, the lives of thousands of American soldiers carrying it out, and our national security at risk. That is what I care about."
WHAT ALCOHOL DOES. Trying to settle the great Mel Gibson debate, The New York Timesspoke with addiction specialists and alcohol experts to see whether Gibson's anti-Semitic spray could've been the tequila doing voice-over. The answer? Not likely. Contrary to certain recent press releases, alcohol does not, in fact, invent new parts of your brain or replace old opinions with shinier, fresher ones. Instead, its primary effect is to suppress activity in the prefrontal cortex, the portion of your brain which acts as superego, considering whether your acts are appropriate to the moment and cultural context.
AN OUNCE OF PREVENTION.Noam Scheiberresponded late last week to my contention that Hezbollah posed no "mortal danger" to Israel by, in essence, agreeing with me. According to Scheiber (and I tend to agree), the Israeli government wasn't reacting to a perceived current or imminent danger but, rather, saw Hezbollah's cross-border raid as offering a reasonable casus belli for launching a preventive war aimed at curbing a perceived future threat from what was seen as Hezbollah's growing power. The difference is that I don't think this is a good idea at all.