Archive

  • SPANISH BOMBS.

    SPANISH BOMBS. Yesterday, new Corner blogger Mario Loyola took to task "the hippies . . . the Howard Dean left" for ignoring their historical roots among "the European and American leftists who, during the Spanish Civil War, went to Spain to fight the rise of a fascist dictatorship," a moment said to have been "their finest hour." This strikes me as confused on several levels, but since when did this become the conservative line on the Spanish Civil War? I recall that a couple of years ago some right-winger or other managed to convince me that this particular sacred cow of the left was worth slaughtering. The Abraham Lincoln Brigade and the International Brigades more generally were organized by and under the control of the Comintern , which is to say Stalin . The membership was mostly Communists and fellow travelers. There's no reason for contemporary American liberals to look back on that movement as a key model to emulate, and there�s certainly no reason for contemporary American...
  • ROUGH TIMES FOR SPECTER.

    ROUGH TIMES FOR SPECTER. And you thought Arlen Specter was having a rough decade, what with all the rolling over, fetching, and mock outrage he's been required to perform in his role as chairman of the kabuki Judiciary Committee of a rubber-stamp Senate during a lawless administration. Now, here come some guys in smocks from a cutting-edge lab, casting doubts upon the great triumph of his youth. I have no intention of chasing this story any further into the Kennedy Assassination swamps than I already have, and I've forgotten most of the metallurgy they taught me in journalism school, but these guys seem to have no dog in this fight one way or another. Step up, Arlen. Take some time off from vandalizing the Constitution and explain to us (again) why you're not full of beans. (Thanks to Will Bunch for the link, and Susie Madrak for the original catch.) --Charles P. Pierce
  • Really Bad Immigration Bill Numbers at the Washington Post

    The Post had an article on the Congressional Budget Office�s (CBO) estimate of the cost of the recently passed Senate immigration bill that was sure to mislead anyone who reads it. The article�s headline warns that CBO estimated the 10-year cost at $126 billion. This headline not only commits the common sin of scaring readers with a big number outside of any context (the spending is less than 0.4 percent of projected federal spending), it also fundamentally misrepresents the CBO report. The report is very clear that there was a mistake in the wording of the bill. The $126 billion is an estimate based on the mistaken wording. CBO did a separate estimate that is based on the intention of the sponsors of the bill, as conveyed to them from conversations with the key sponsors of the bill and their staff. The net cost of the bill under this estimate is less than $35 billion over the next decade, or less than 0.1 percent of projected spending. Members of Congress may not be the brightest...
  • A TRULY UNPOPULAR...

    A TRULY UNPOPULAR INCUMBENT. If Sen. Joe Lieberman is ever feeling sorry for himself, he can take some comfort in knowing that at least he's not in as a bad shape as the incumbent governor of Alaska, Frank Murkowski , who is currently running third in the GOP gubernatorial primary contest. Just how unpopular is Murkowski? The AP reports : Murkowski's approval ratings have skidded over the past four years because of much-criticized decisions such as appointing his daughter Lisa to his U.S. Senate seat and purchasing a state jet after his request for the aircraft was denied by both the federal government and state Legislature. A statewide poll by the Dittman Research Corp. showed Murkowski with 17 percent, compared with 40 percent for former Wasilla mayor Sarah Palin and 29 percent for former state legislator John Binkley of Fairbanks. Anti-incumbent fever this year clearly is not limited to just the blue states -- or even the mainland ones. --Garance Franke-Ruta
  • CALLING FOR RUMMY'S...

    CALLING FOR RUMMY'S HEAD. Senator Joseph Lieberman sought, on yesterday's edition of Face the Nation , to prove that he really wasn't Bush 's point man on the war in Iraq, after all. This he did by calling for the dumping of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld . Kinda like shooting fish in a barrel, don't cha think? According to a Pew Research Center poll conducted between April 7 and April 16, 2006, 38 percent of respondents rated Rumsfeld�s favorably, while 40 percent did the same for the president. Now with Bush 's rating having dipped to 33 percent, according to the most recent AP-Ipsos poll , it's difficult to imagine that Rummy's hasn't continued its downward slide. Asked by Schieffer to illustrate his differences with President Bush on the conduct of the Iraq War, all Lieberman, the anti-Democrat Democrat, was able to offer was his call for Rummy's head. Over at NBC's Meet the Press , Senator John McCain , the maverick-in-name-only Republican, fell absurdly short of calling for...
  • BARONE OFF THE DEEP END.

    BARONE OFF THE DEEP END. Okay, I'm willing to accept the occasional deeply wing-nutty flavor of the national debate as a price to pay for having a First Amendment. I have a long-established sweet-tooth for the chewiest American brands of it, going back to the rainy Saturday in high school when my father, God rest his soul, gave me his copy of None Dare Call It Treason to read. (If you've never read it, get it now . It's a hoot.) But, I'm sorry, this is just nuts. Barone used to be a fairly respectable voice; in our house, we still pick up The Almanac of American Politics every couple of years. But, Michael, baby, I think you've been drinking out of the wrong water-cooler in the FOX Green Room, buddy. (Stay away from the one marked " Ollie North Only.") There's so much to be delighted by, but this is by far my favorite passage: We are taught that some of the Founding Fathers were slaveholders -- and are left ignorant of their proclamations of universal liberties and human rights. We...
  • ENOUGH OF ST....

    ENOUGH OF ST. PAUL. Life would be so much better for a lot of us folks of faith if we could just run St. Paul 's sorry ass out of the New Testament the way they snuffed the Gospel of Thomas . Granted, the Book of Revelation has caused an awful lot of trouble, but it has the saving grace of being gorgeously written. Not so with the Bill O'Reilly of Tarsus, "that great blatherskite with his epistles in bad Greek," according to the immortal Flann O'Brien . (In heaven, according to Himself, Paul is repeatedly squelched by his fellow saints, who tell him, "You're not on the road to Damascus now!") Anyway, here's the latest damage he�s done. The woman taught there for 54 years . Was she silent the whole time, or was the First Baptist Church of Watertown, N.Y., operating a carnival of sin in its Sunday school until the providential arrival of Reverend/Councilman LaBouf ? I can only imagine how many of these smaller, manifestly un-Christian incidents take place, day after day, all over the...
  • IN PRAISE OF...

    IN PRAISE OF MOM AND POP STORES. There was a bit of discussion on this site and elsewhere toward the end of last week about Andrew Young 's criticism of mom and pop grocery stores. Some who disagreed with his racial analysis praised the big chains like Wal-Mart for their ability to potentially provide inner-city residents with quality produce at reasonable prices. And, in general, I agree with the criticism that the mom and pops carry far too many highly-sugared or salted products and very low quality produce, and that chains which put them out of business or force them to improve could be doing inner-city communities a favor. Still, I was reminded over the weekend of one of the great things about the mom and pops, which is that they also frequently carry ethnic foodstuffs that no big American chain will ever stock. For example, just two blocks up from my neighborhood of new condos and coffee-shops is a still-ungentrified retail and restaurant row that includes two different dollar...
  • ONE WIFE, TWO...

    ONE WIFE, TWO WIFE, RED WIFE, BLUE WIFE. Over at The Corner, Kate O'Beirne writes : The Salt Lake Tribune reports that Governor Mitt Romney's great-grandfather had multiple wives and two great-great grandfathers had 10 wives each. The article allows that Romney "is a confirmed monogamist of nearly four decades and polygamy has been absent from his family going back two generations." While some might note the upside of generously sharing those handsome Romney genes in the past, current history is noteworthy. Should Mitt Romney join a 2008 race that included John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, Newt Gingrich and George Allen, the only guy in the GOP field with only one wife would be the Morman. It's funny �cause it's true. For a more serious look at the politics of adultery in the GOP's 2008 field, check out Midterm Madness contributor Steven Benen 's piece from the Washington Monthly , which goes over the histories and political implications of these conservative cads in some detail. --Ezra...
  • EVERYONE A FASCIST.

    EVERYONE A FASCIST. Spencer Ackerman makes the case against "Islamofascism," with a heavy emphasis on the pragmatic value of not infuriating vast swathes of Muslim opinion for no good reason. Bolstering that is the basic point that this is analytically daft -- we're talking about some bad dudes but there's nothing especially fascist about them except insofar as "fascist" means "bad." But we don't call Pol Pot or Foday Sankoh "fascists" and nobody interprets that as apologetics for the people in question. Indeed, the fascinating thing about the "Islamofascist" fetish is that it has the longstanding left-wing trope of throwing the word "fascist" around willy-nilly as a vague and generic term of abuse. One mostly hears that in recent years from people who are fundamentally just being silly, but it has its actual origins in deliberate Soviet propaganda topics aimed at smearing any and all non-Communist political forces (see, e.g., the bizarre "social fascists" locution). I recall a time...

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