Archive

  • THE PERILS OF...

    THE PERILS OF MULTILATERALISM UNILATERALISM. Charles Krauthammer has another one in his occasional series of columns deriding the usefulness and effectiveness of multilateralism. It would seem, however, that his thinly veiled contempt for the cumbersome process of consensus-building is a bit misplaced -- he's convinced that both North Korea and Iran will finish their nuclear bombs, and nothing we or our allies can do will stop them. That is, of course, true. But it's a truth that multilateralism could have helped prevent. Going to your allies is not a solely transactional process. You do it to attract their cooperation and material support for your plans, to be sure, but you also do it to get outside feedback on your priorities. If no one is willing to accede to your scheme, it may indeed be a crackpot, counterproductive, or problematic undertaking. So it was with Iraq, which other countries realized would prove an eventual mess. When we were readying to enter the country, Dominique...
  • WORTH SEEING?

    WORTH SEEING? So far I have watched one-and-a-half of the recently released documentaries about the national tragedies of September 11 and Katrina. On Native Soil is the film version -- presuming a documentary can actually substitute for the National Book Award- nominated Report -- of the findings of the 9-11 Commission. I�m also halfway through Spike Lee �s four-hour film, When the Levees Broke , about the Katrina disaster. Although the directors of ONS have an advantage in terms of the volume and visual impact of available footage -- is there any more compelling, if horrifying, footage than the sight of that second plane hitting the South Tower? -- Lee paces his film so slowly that I repeatedly found myself wanting to hit my DVR�s fast forward button. Though I�ll reserve final judgment on Levees until I plow through the last two parts of his four-part requiem, the choice of �plow� is the giveaway. Some of Lee�s interviews are great, especially those he extracted from New Orleans...
  • PURGE OF MELE BEGINS.

    PURGE OF MELE BEGINS. As well it should. The New Organizing Institute (a "grassroots training and research program created by experienced online organizers...in conjunction with MoveOn.org") just announced it has "removed Nicco Mele from its Advisory Board after learning that Mele will be supporting John McCain if he should run for president." It is important that someone is taking the lead in drawing the line against progressive support for McCain , and I hope more progressive organizations follow. NOI went on to add, "Senator McCain's record is radically out-of-step with the values of most Americans�and certainly inconsistent with the values of the NOI." Indeed. As McCain's campaign picks up steam, there is going to be a temptation for some progressive reformers to lose their minds and support him for the same lame quasi-character-based reasons Mele gives: "[his] work on campaign finance reform and his independent streak." I've always been perplexed by this obsession good-government...
  • BREATHLESS FOR THE APOCALYPSE, FROM SAN ANTONIO TO TOLEDO.

    BREATHLESS FOR THE APOCALYPSE, FROM SAN ANTONIO TO TOLEDO. As talk of war with Iran intensifies , it�s hard not to see the bated breath of the Armageddon brigade fogging up the windows of the White House. John Hagee , the San Antonio televangelist and leader of Christians United for Israel, has used every twist and turn of the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah to promote his vision of a world-ending confrontation with Iran. Almost two weeks ago, he told his followers that the shaky ceasefire between Israel and Hezbollah will �only be a pause before the coming storm between America and Israel and the rogue nation of Iran.� Written just four days after Bush said on national television that America �is at war with Islamic fascists who will use any means to destroy those of us who love freedom, to hurt our nation,� Hagee�s missive included this dire warning: �The people of America do not want to admit Islamo-Fascism is a threat to this nation. It is! They don't want to believe that...
  • WHOA: GEORGE ALLEN...

    WHOA: GEORGE ALLEN IS JEWISH? So says The Forward , which has traced his mother's lineage back to a family of Tunisian Jews, making Allen, as we used to say in my German-Jewish family, "Jewish enough to be killed for it, if they start killing Jews again," even though he's a practicing Episcopalian: Allen�s mother, Henriette (Etty), whose maiden name was Lumbroso, is indeed Francophone and Tunisian born, a heritage that forms a romantic theme in �Fifth Quarter: The Scrimmage of a Football Coach�s Daughter� the memoir of Allen family life written by Allen�s sister Jennifer. What�s more, it is likely that she�s Jewish by birth, although no acknowledgment of that heritage appears in the memoir. Allen�s campaign spokesman, Bill Bozin, did not return several detailed messages, left over two days, that asked what the senator and his family know about his mother�s heritage. Depending on what additional information comes out on the matter, the controversy could end up resurrecting a dominant...
  • NYT Discovers Seller Side Concessions

    The New York Times had an excellent piece this morning on the fact that sellers are increasingly offering substantial non-price concessions in order to move their homes. As the article notes (and has been mentioned repeatedly on BTP) these concessions are not recorded in the sale prices that enter the standard house price indexes. Therefore these indexes are missing some of the price decline in recent months. I promised a BTP goat prize to articles commenting on housing prices that did not note this seller side concession issue. In the future, such articles will get a BTP-NYT goat prize.
  • JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: AN ACCOUNTABILITY MOMENT.

    JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: AN ACCOUNTABILITY MOMENT. Public outrage; political infighting; the outbreak of myriad corruption, real estate, and sex scandals -- Jo-Ann Mort takes us on a tour of the Israeli domestic political scene in the wake of the war in Lebanon. It ain't pretty. --The Editors
  • POLITICIZING THE TREASURY....

    POLITICIZING THE TREASURY. So there I was, happily tracking down some dry budgetary statistics to bore you all with, when I noticed something odd on the Treasury Department's homepage . On the left sidebar, in the top, "DIRECT LINKS" category, the first entry was "Health Savings Accounts." The next was "Refund Status," followed by "IRS Tax Reforms," both categories I would expect elicit more interest than HSAs. Under "Browse Key Topics," you see such standbys as "Accounting & Budget," "Currency & Coins," "Economy," and, yep, "Health Savings Accounts." Not "Health Care," mind you, but "Health Savings Accounts." It all seemed a little strange to me. The HSA homepage offers such useful resources as "HSA Basics (tri-fold brochure)" -- because the American taxpayer deserves smaller pocket literature, dammit -- and "Fact Sheet: Dramatic Growth of HSAs." It's almost as if the Treasury Department wants to promote HSAs, and is using their web site to further the mission. That, of...
  • HELP IS ON THE WAY.

    HELP IS ON THE WAY. Press release in the ol' inbox today: "Movements for Peace, Katrina Recovery, Immigrants' Rights, Women's Rights, Labor Rights, Environmental Sanity, Electoral Reform, and Impeachment Plan Joint Encampment in Washington." If Bush gives in to their first seven demands, will they agree that Dick Cheney doesn't need to be made president? --Matthew Yglesias
  • MORE McECCODITTO.

    MORE McECCODITTO. Following up on Ezra 's post , here's the official EccoDitto statement on their CEO's reported flirtation with John McCain : "EchoDitto was founded to further a progressive agenda online, and we are proud of the partners we've worked with over the past three years and the record we've built doing so. As a firm, EchoDitto is committed to progressive campaigns and organizations. We do not now, nor will we in the future, support candidates or organizations that are not aligned with our social mission. Because of that fact, we do not now, nor will we in the future, support Republican campaigns. We have turned down such requests in the past and will continue to do so in the future. Individually, the members of our team are free to support politically whomever they want -- such is the right of anyone in a democratic society. Here's what the man himself had to say about McCain on his blog this morning: A lot of people are asking me about John McCain. When I worked for...

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