ROCK BOTTOM. Word on the street is that Larry Brown will be leaving as coach of the New York Knicks soon in order to be replaced by catastrophic general manager Isiah Thomas. Superficially, I think this move will lead to Thomas' vindication -- Brown's squad played so poorly this season that they're almost certain to do better next year as a matter of regression toward the mean. Not well, but better.
THE GREATEST AGE SINCE THE GILDED ONE. I've been debating whether to dig into John McIntyre's defense of tax cuts. It's sort of standard stuff, but the first graf is such a perfectly concise statement of the GOP's economic narrative that it deserves some real examination.
DAYS OF OLD. So of course everyone hates this Adam Nagourney Week in Review article quoting "leading Dems" who say the party would be better off not taking over either chamber of Congress in November. Actually, two arguments get made in the piece.
THE POLITICAL IMPORTANCE OF PLACING THE NSA SCANDAL IN A WIDER CONTEXT. We need to look at the latest NSA scandal not in isolation, but as part of a much larger pattern of presidential lawlessness -- a view Matt has rightly insisted upon -- and now we have some proof that this way of seeing it is politically more potent, too. Take a look at the USA Today poll that Atriosflagged. One of its key findings:
About two-thirds are concerned that the program may signal other, not-yet-disclosed efforts to gather information on the general public...
NEGROPONTE LIED, PEOPLE SPIED.Dan Eggen at The Washington Post notes that as recently as a year ago Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte was assuring people that the NSA was "absolutely not" monitoring domestic calls which, of course, it was. What's more, he actually said this in congressional testimony which used to be considered more serious than run of the mill lying. I don't see any particular reason to trust a group of people who've repeatedly shown themselves to be untrustworthy to conduct a potentially abusable program, in secret, without abusing it.
THE DEMAGOGUE SHUFFLE.Bush's new plan to deploy the National Guard to the border is a bit pathetic. Here's a guy who has never showed an ounce of interest in border enforcement, who's been laudably pro-immigrant throughout his administration, and who loves to declare that he doesn't follow the polls. So, now that his numbers are bottoming out, what does he do? Send American guardsmen to lock-down the border, stopping a crisis that doesn't actually exist. Forget, for a moment, that our National Guard is wildly overstretched, and probably has better things to do than stand watch for Mexicans (ports, anybody?).
THE "IT'S CLASSIFIED!" SHUFFLE. I'm continually amazed by how bad -- how unctuous, transparent, and phony -- Bill Frist sounds in interviews. Appearing on CNN's "Late Edition" yesterday, he parried a question from Wolf Blitzer about the NSA data mining operation by first going on at length with detailed positive commentary about the program and then immediately hiding behind the "it's classified" defense when tough questions came up. This is a classic Bush administration move, of course, but Frist handled it with his characteristic klutziness:
[BLITZER]:Are you comfortable with this program?
FRIST: Absolutely. Absolutely. I am one of the people who are briefed...
WHEN IN DOUBT, LIE. In Laura Bush�s interview yesterday with Fox News, in which she blamed the media for her husband's abysmal poll numbers, the first lady said this:
And I think right now what we're seeing with these poll numbers is a lot of fun in the press with taking a poll every other week and putting it on the news, on the front page of the newspaper. When his polls were really high, they weren't on the front page.(Emphasis added.)
Really? Here's a list of headlines from The New York Times and The Washington Post about polls taken when President Bush wasn't on such hard times. Every one of these was on the front page:
WITH GREAT HUBRIS COMES GREAT RESPONSIBILITY.Cliff May makes a common conservative joke about the Bush administration getting blamed for problems that have no apparent connection to anything it's done, in this particular instance riots in Sao Paulo. The thing of it is that this mindset -- holding the United States partly responsible for everything that goes bad wherever one happens to live -- is a straightforward consequence of precisely the sort of foreign policy May favors and the Bush administration has implemented.