Archive

  • WHAT IS HEZBOLLAH?...

    WHAT IS HEZBOLLAH? Tim Cavanaugh 's reply to Robert Pape 's op-ed is interesting. Pape, the author of a book on suicide bombers, argues that Hezbollah is a territorial organization, staffed and sustained by anger over Israeli incursions. Cavanaugh, however, has done some more recent work with the organization, and found them a centrally structured, highly sophisticated group. "[W]hen I went to interview Mohammad Fneish, for example, they certainly seemed organized, requiring a battery of security checks, disclaimers to fill out, personal information, etc., and that's after you go by a bunch of hard-looking characters who patrol outside their headquarters building (or patrolled; the building is gone now). The tasks of the security people, the PR people, the politicians, and the clerical staff all seemed as well established as you'd see in a military organization, and this was just to get access to a politician." That would suggest that Hezbollah evolved beyond their origins as an anti-...
  • The Long-Term Deficit Trap

    It is fashionable in many circles to warn of the impending bankruptcy of the federal government ( see USAToday ). Be warned � this is not a story about the evils of Bush�s tax cuts for the rich. These tax cuts are just a footnote. The real villain in the bankruptcy story is the projected explosion in the cost of Medicare and Medicaid. This cost explosion is not due to aging; Social Security costs inch up in these projections � just like they have been doing for the past seventy years. Medicare and Medicaid costs explode in this story because the U.S. health care system is broken and the projections assume that we never fix it. Being an optimist, I think that American politicians are not so much more incompetent and corrupt than politicians elsewhere in the world. Every other wealthy country manages to provide health care for its people at a fraction of the price of the U.S. system. Per person health care expenditures in other rich countries average less than half as much as in the...
  • CONTEST! Noted...

    CONTEST! Noted Pessimist Donald Rumsfeld just said: "I have never painted a rosy picture. I have been very measured in my words, and you�d have a dickens of a time trying to find instances where I have been excessively optimistic." Okay Internets, I want you to find me the best, most optimistic, most transcendentally sanguine Rumsfeld quote you can. Winner gets a -- I don't know -- signed copy of the magazine. If they want one. --Ezra Klein
  • JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: PUTTING DOWN NETROOTS.

    JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: PUTTING DOWN NETROOTS. Once you've read Scott Winship 's article on the netroots and ideology and Ezra 's comments below, read Mark Schmitt 's response to Winship: I think the most remarkable and distinctive thing about the new generation of activists, whether described as readers of liberal websites or strong supporters of, say, Ned Lamont, is that they have a strong sense of the Democratic Party -- what it is, and what it should mean. That�s a very big deal. Perhaps it�s part of the generational discussion that�s been going on recently , but those of us who are, as Matt Stoller generously puts it, "in [our] thirties and above" do remember a time when left ideology was about spitting on the institutional Democratic Party, ignoring it, treating it as a corporate tool, and at best, trying to pressure �the political class� from outside. Those days are gone. Now there is a recognition that only a meaningful, coherent political party -- not a faction or an issue...
  • WHAT WILL THE...

    WHAT WILL THE NETROOTS WANT? I'm both fascinated and unconvinced by Scott Winship 's essay on the netroots' ideology. Scott argues -- convincingly -- that whether or not the netroots are ideological in nature, they are liberals. No argument there. The problem comes in the next step of the analysis, the effort to decide whether or not this personal liberalism is incidental or fundamental to their actions, which is to say are the netroots actively seeking to create a liberal party or a merely robust one? Scott fears the two are inseparable -- in their inability to recognize that their progressivism is a localized, unpopular perspective, the netroots will throw their considerable force behind candidates and campaigns that, in a national sense, are dead on arrival. There are a couple of problems with this. The first is a mistaken belief in the monolithic nature of this community. There's a belief that "the netroots" -- a singular force -- will "do" something. But that's scarcely the case...
  • JOMELTDOWN.

    JOMELTDOWN. Maxine Waters , Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton have rushed to Connecticut to campaign for Ned Lamont . Several members of the Congressional Black Caucus who had initially pledged to support Joe Lieberman have reportedly backed out at the last minute. A newfound black wariness of Lieberman, you say? Hardly. Whatever black Democratic voters do in Tuesday�s primary, this much is certain: Long before Lamont was in the spotlight, it was national black Democrats who raised their concerned voices about Lieberman. Amid all the hype over the primary race, this fact seems to have been overlooked. Flashback to the 2000 Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles. When Al Gore announced Lieberman as his veep pick, most Dems swooned. But not folks like Waters. They were asking tough questions about Lieberman�s commitments to civil rights; his dressing-down of Toni Morrison �s black president, Bill Clinton ; and worrying aloud about Lieberman�s business-friendly profile. At the time,...
  • BUT HAS SHE...

    BUT HAS SHE SEEN LOVE ACTUALLY? Responding to news that Paris "the brain" Hilton doesn't know who Tony Blair is, Kathryn Lopez wonders whether Hilton's brain cells could be jogged, awoken, or possibly created by mentioning that Blair is like Hugh Grant 's character in Love Actually . Only...he's not. At all. Grant's character in the film looks like Blair and is clearly a liberal, but he also represents a full-throated rejection of the toady Brit. His seminal moment comes at the close of a weekend summit with the American president, a steely, country-fried nitwit played without remorse by Billy Bob Thornton , when he publicly shreds the arrogance and entitlement of the Bush stand-in. The setting was the weekend negotiations, where, as Bush has done, Thornton denies Grant any progress on his pet initiatives, any compromises on America's priorities, and, worst of all, sleazily hits on the staffer Grant has become somewhat infatuated with (okay -- we don't know that Bush has done that)...
  • JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: TAKE A PAY HIKE.

    JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: TAKE A PAY HIKE. Ezra makes the case for raising congressional salaries. --The Editors
  • WELCOME BACK, KANSAS....

    WELCOME BACK, KANSAS. My prayers, and those of other heathens like me, have apparently borne fruit, for, on Tuesday, the great State of Kansas rejoined the reality-based community when two opponents of the theory of evolution were effectively ousted from the Kansas Board of Education. The results appear to have tipped the board in favor of teaching science in the science curriculum of the Kansas public schools, in lieu of a faith-based explanation of the origins of the human species. The standards for the teaching of science in Kansas have been revised three times since 1999, when right-wing candidates won control of the state-level school board and set about the work of discrediting the theory of evolution and other scientific theories regarding the origins of the cosmos. One can only hope that the fourth time will prove the charm. Now, before liberals, and others who believe knowledge to be a good thing to disburse in schools, go wild doing the happy dance, it is important to note...
  • EVEN THE SEDATE DAVID BRODER.

    EVEN THE SEDATE DAVID BRODER. Has had just about enough : "Can we think about the costs of carrying on, without an end in sight, against Hezbollah and the insurgents in Iraq?" I'm not even sure "carrying on . . . against . . . the insurgents" describes what we're doing in Iraq at this point. The reporting has gotten so thin that it's hard to tell what's happening. Lots of people get killed every day, but it's hard to know by whom or why. Oftentimes the killers are wearing government uniforms , sometimes because they are government employees and sometimes because the uniforms are fake. And then you read about how "American soldiers from an Army combat unit that killed three Iraqis in a raid in May testified Wednesday that they had received orders from superior officers to kill all the military-age men they encountered." I think it's clear at this point that nobody inside or outside the government has any clue how to stabilize this situation. Our troops, despite their best efforts, aren...

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