Archive

  • FEAR FACTOR. With...

    FEAR FACTOR. With the American people now soured on the war in Iraq, President George W. Bush today turned his attention to the subject of military tribunals for terrorism suspects, demanding that Congress legislate just what rights are to be granted to evil-doers like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed , believed to be the mastermind of the 9-11 terrorist attacks, in those tribunals. A June Supreme Court decision had left it to Congress to determine the shape of these tribunals, and now on the eve of the 5th anniversary of the 9-11 attacks, and with the midterm elections looming, the president is once again playing the fear card (as well as the patriotism card), using an East Room address to dare Congress to grant rights to 14 detainees that the administration names as party to the attacks of September 11, 2001. --Adele M. Stan
  • BACK TO BUSINESS...

    BACK TO BUSINESS AS USUAL AT THE AIRPORTS. The Department of Homeland Security may claim that the nation's airlines are still taking additional security precautions because of the "elevated threat" of terrorist attack. Yet I just accidentally took both a reasonably sharp set of scissors and a five-inch tube of hand-cream through airport security here at Boston's Logan Airport, without incident. (I'd forgotten they were in my purse and found them around 20 minutes after passing through security.) I realize that the actual threat posed by liquid explosive components is probably quite a bit lower than the public was originally led to believe, but still, if security authorities are going to announce a rule, and annoy passengers by asking them to place even lip gloss in their checked baggage, shouldn't they be alert enough to detect a tube when it does go through? I asked the TSA supervisor at the screening station about this, presenting her with what I thought were banned items, and she...
  • THE CAMPAIGN MONEY...

    THE CAMPAIGN MONEY FALLACY. I'm inclined to agree with Duncan that the campaign money fallacy should be taken out back and shot. There is not, in fact, a finite amount of funds each progressive donor gives to a candidate, and there's no real reason to believe that their donations to Lamont will, in some sort of zero-sum fashion, detract from their donations to Webb . That said, Adler , as I read him , was making a more specific point: that the blogosphere's capability to focus attention and emphasis on a certain campaign or issue is limited, and that they'd made a strategic mistake in devoting so much of it to Lamont. I do recall far more "Nedrenaline" posts than I do Webb appeals, so it seems to me that Adler's got a point there. Whether he's right that the netroots squandered its time or energy by focusing on Lieberman is, I think, a different question, and one that I can see both sides of. But asking it doesn�t necessarily entail buying into the zero-sum conception of campaign...
  • WAL-MART SPEAKS, YOU...

    WAL-MART SPEAKS, YOU LISTEN. Over the past couple of weeks, I've talked about Wal-Mart's near- monopsony powers, and why the perfectly rational and understandable decisions of the company may not, in fact, be in the wider interests of the country. Today, in The Wall Street Journal , there's a concrete example of they use the powers: Recently, for example, the major studios opened negotiations to provide movies to be played on Apple Computer Inc.'s video iPod -- an important step toward Hollywood's digital future. Then Wal-Mart, the biggest seller of DVDs, disrupted the talks when it delivered a pointed warning to the studios not to give Apple a better deal for digital movies than the retailer gets for physical copies. That, of course, is ridiculous. A physical digital video disc must be produced, printed, labeled, packaged, shipped, affixed with bar codes and pricing information, and shrink-wrapped before being sold. This must be done for every single copy. To demand that a download...
  • FROM KATRINA TO...

    FROM KATRINA TO 9-11. It seems I've returned from New Orleans just in time to be called, in the tradition of Nazi sympathizers, an appeaser to the evil forces in the world. This campaign on the part of the Bush administration -- to tar critics of the Iraq War with a brush worthy of the abdicating Duke of Windsor -- builds each day as the fifth anniversary of the September 11 attacks approaches in this midterm election year. Lurching from memories of one catastrophe to the next, I asked myself, now, what do these two events have in common? Why, it's the contractors, silly. While in New Orleans, I heard locals and workers grousing about the alleged fleecing of the American people by Phillips & Jordan, Inc., which was awarded a debris-removal contract, under a no-bid program, by the Army Corps of Engineers. As it turns out, Phillips & Jordan is doing little, if any, of the work itself, and has instead farmed it out to four subcontractors for significantly less than the prime...
  • FINALLY. It...

    FINALLY. It looks like someone tipped off The Washington Post to the existence of a major primary in Rhode Island, as they sent Ruth Marcus to cover hyperconservative Stephen Laffey 's attempt to dethrone Lincoln Chafee . Most polls show him within spitting distance of succeeding -- a far more significant act than anything Ned Lamont pulled off, as a Laffey victory will almost certainly flip the seat to the Democrats. But the Laffey campaign isn't fueled by blogs, and Markos Moulitsas has nothing to do with it, so Chafee's looming defeat has attracted nearly no media attention. That's a shame because the fall of the most prominent Rockefeller Republican would be significant, and the victory of the Laffey campaign, which relies on a "Time to Change Washington" slogan, would be further evidence of the vibrant anti-incumbent sentiment rippling through the electorate. And that doesn't even get into the potential importance of Laffey's populist message -- he claims Teddy Roosevelt as his...
  • WHERE'S THE MONEY FOR WEBB?

    WHERE'S THE MONEY FOR WEBB? Michelle Cottle 's great profile of Jim Webb in this week's New Republic reminds me of a point Alec raised last month, during the Connecticut primary: Wouldn't the fundraising energy the bloggers lavished on Ned Lamont been better spent funding challengers seeking to defeat actual Republicans? Come November 8th, would they rather see Joe Lieberman looking hangdog or George Allen staring shellshocked? Like Lamont, Webb won the Democratic primary in an upset fueled in part by the bloggers� support. But a distaste for fundraising has left him with merely $500,000 on hand while his incumbent opponent, George Allen, sits atop $6 million. So, as Cottle points out, Webb may be catching up in the polls right now, but he lacks the funds to sustain the rally. What happens when Allen deploys his war chest to make Webb into a baby-eating gay marriage counselor? No progressive, no matter how much they hate Joe Lieberman , can reasonably claim that he's nearly as odious...
  • JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: DON'T LOOK BACK.

    JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: DON'T LOOK BACK. Matt weighs in on some of the issues being hashed out in this week's Rose - Mishel debate, and argues that the question in dispute is the wrong question to be debating. Third Wayish prescriptions are lame even if the centrist analysis of middle-class prosperity is roughly accurate, and liberal economic and social policies deserve touting on their own terms -- doing so doesn't require painting a doom-and-gloom picture of the modern economy. --The Editors
  • ROLE PLAYING.

    ROLE PLAYING. Every now and again I give the president the benefit of the doubt, try to see things from his side, walk a mile or so in his manly brush-clearing workshoes as it were. So, I'm George W. Bush , right? I have launched a war that I have repeatedly said is a critical response to an existential threat to Western civilization that is as serious as were those of Nazi Germany and the Soviet empire. Things have not gone well. And most of the country doesn't trust me when I tell them why I'm doing what I'm doing. (Most of the country doesn't trust me if I tell them the sun rises in the East, but that's a whole 'nother mile in them workshoes.) Nevertheless, the threat is real and it is growing and I can't get the country to see it. Why, then, do I give all my speeches to captive audiences of people who either already believe what I believe or who get paid to serve under my steady hand as commander-in-chief? Doesn't the seriousness of the threat, and the requirements of my job,...
  • AHMADINEJAD JOINS STUDENTS FOR ACADEMIC FREEDOM.

    AHMADINEJAD JOINS STUDENTS FOR ACADEMIC FREEDOM. What do Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and David Horowitz have in common? Hint: It's not their views on Israel. Give up? They both want to fire liberal, secularist professors perverting the fragile minds of college students. According to AP: Iran's hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called Tuesday for a purge of liberal and secular teachers from the country's universities, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported in another step back to 1980s-style radicalism. Well, at least Iran is finally catching up to us in something besides nuclear technology. --Ben Adler

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