REVISITING IRAN-CONTRA. The more I look back on it, the way that the crimes of the Iran-Contra affair came to such an uncertain conclusion, the more it strikes me as a lost opportunity, and not just because so many of the principals are back to screwing up the nation now, 20 years later, although that's a pretty good reason in and of itself. What Iran-Contra resembles is nothing less than an embryonic exercise in the notion, now popular in the lunchroom at the Department of Justice, that the Executive Powers section of the Constitution resembles more closely than anything the operating principles of the Corleone family.
THE NEED TO COPE. In this post, Martin Peretz notes that having Hezbollah de-militarize by being absorbed into the Lebanese Army would be unsatisfactory from an Israeli point of view. He also says that "it would even be terrible if the Lebanese army didn't absorb but simply occupied the southern part of the country." And here, he says he doesn't like the idea of a UN force either. This, however, leaves only the possibility of Israel re-occupying southern Lebanon, which didn't work out well at all, or else a return to the status quo ante.
GIVE 'EM UP. Now this is comforting. A New York Appeals Court has ruled that a federal prosecutor can inspect the phone records of the New York Times reporters who revealed the government's plans to take action against two Islamic charities. The charities were tipped off when the reporters called to get their reactions to a raid that hadn't happened yet. The court ruled that the government's need to know the tipster outweighed the paper's desire to protect its sources. Weirdly, though, the court simply demanded the telephone records, not the cooperation of the journalists.
This is the first posting as a TAP blog, so I thought I would mark the occasion with a comment on the housing bubble. We have enough data at this point (lower sales, rising inventories, falling median prices) that I feel confident in saying that the crash has begun. We don't yet know the speed of the decline or the full repercussions in terms of the financial havoc or the extent of the economic downturn.
BEAT THE PRESS. We're very excited to announce that TAP Online will now be hosting Beat the Press, Dean Baker's blog on economics and reporting. Many Tapped readers already know about Dean; he's an economist and co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. He was a Social Security "crisis" debunker before Social Security crisis debunking was cool, and has recently released the must-read (and free!) e-book The Conservative Nanny State.
I NEVER WOULD HAVE GUESSED. EPA scientists say the agency is bowing to political pressure and preventing action against toxic chemicals that "pose serious risks for fetuses, pregnant women, young children and the elderly." It's hard to believe these allegations, though -- the Bush administration would never do something like that.
BIG RACE FOR SMALL DOLLARS. Solid reporting by Craig Gilbert of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in this recent piece provides a preliminary answer to the question, Which Democratic presidential candidate is most effectively harvesting the small-dollar donor base? Answer: Hillary Clinton in terms of total dollars, but Russ Feingold in terms of the share raised from donations of less than $200.
WHO CAN DO BETTER THAN "WE CAN DO BETTER"? There has been a certain amount of sneering disappointment, mostly from liberals, about the rather milquetoast mantra developed by the Democrats: �America Can Do Better.� Yes, the phrase is vague and policy inspecific, and thus seemingly says everything and therefore nothing all at once.
Yet semantically, it�s hard to beat the theme �America can do better.� Substitute �we� for �America,� and you have what has to be the pithiest statement of potency anyone in any campaign (politics, sports, military) might fashion. Indeed, in just four words -- and merely 13* letters, no less -- look at what this tag line suggests:
THE LEFT'S WEDGE ISSUE: REALITY. The Washington Postreported today on a political rebellion in Kansas against the state's notorious Board of Education standards on evolution. In an appearance on PoliticsTV, Tapped's own Addie Stanexplains why she smells political blood in the water in this fight.