Archive

  • TWO CHEERS FOR...

    TWO CHEERS FOR THE ALL-POWERFUL STATE. Some may disagree, but I say liberals should probably celebrate today's ruling that the Employment Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) supersedes the Maryland law forcing Wal-Mart to pay into a health fund. ERISA allows for uniformity across a single company's nationwide benefit plans so employers don't have to face down new regulations in every state. The Wal-Mart bill, according to the court, violated that legislative intent. By contrast, the judge wrote that something like the Massachusetts reforms do not, because they were an example of "states [performing] their traditional role of serving as laboratories for experiment in controlling the costs and increasing the quality of health care for all citizens," and were not, in intent, clear violations of ERISA. So why should liberals rejoice? Well, though a piece of friendly legislation was knocked down, the active principle behind the court's ruling is a supportable one. If states were able to...
  • "SPECTACULAR CHALLENGE," VAGUE...

    "SPECTACULAR CHALLENGE," VAGUE SOLUTION. Okay. I don't really want to revisit the mean-spirited blog-feuds of yesteryear. Nevertheless, I've read The New Republic 's editorial on the Israel/Lebanon/Syria/Iran situation , and I don't understand what it's trying to say about American policy: The ascendancy of Ahmadinejad's perfidious Iran is a spectacular problem for the United States, and a spectacular challenge. Iran is now the single most powerful force arrayed against American ideals and interests in the Middle East. The various Islamist movements pose various threats; but here is Islamism incarnated in a large and ambitious state. For this reason, U.S. policy toward Iran must consist of more than an attempt to frustrate its nuclear designs. If we do not isolate Iran regionally and globally, if we do not do everything we can to support the democratizing forces in Iran, and of course if we do not move ruthlessly to prevent Iran from acquiring the deadliest arsenal of all, then we...
  • CONVENIENT EXPLANATIONS. ...

    CONVENIENT EXPLANATIONS. Has Bob Samuelson been asleep the past five years? In his column today , Samuelson puzzles at the fact that the Bush administration is "shamefully" (a) claiming that this year�s $296 billion deficit is an achievement; and (b) attributing said "achievement" to Bush �s tax cuts, and celebrating accordingly. For Samuelson and others who may need a refresher course, there are two guiding principles of Bush-era public policy. First, invert the usual policy process by identifying the solution or answer you prefer, then shop around for a problem or question to fit it. Record surpluses? Time to cut taxes. Impending recession? Tax cuts are the answer. Cat stuck in tree? You guessed it: tax cuts. Second, no matter the result, claim not merely success, but success attributable to the pre-ordained solution. Libya has come to the table? The Iraq invasion is a success! Rising violence in Baghdad? The dead-enders in their last throes know the invasion was a success! The Sox...
  • IRANIAN OPPOSITION ACTIVISTS...

    IRANIAN OPPOSITION ACTIVISTS SPURN INVITATION TO WHITE HOUSE. Leading Iranian dissident Akbar Ganji is sitting on something many people would only dream of: a personal invitation to the White House today to meet with top U.S. officials overseeing the United States policy toward Iran, including the National Security Council�s Elliot Abrams and State Department�s Iran nuclear negotiator Nicholas Burns . It's even been dangled before him that President Bush may drop by the afternoon meeting of Iranian opposition activists. But Iran's most famous former political prisoner, who arrived in Washington earlier this week for a month long U.S. tour after six years in Iranian prison says, while tempted, he's not going to accept the invitation. And he�s not the only Iranian pro-democracy activist choosing not to go: among the others are former Iranian Revolutionary Guard founder-turned-dissident Mohsen Sazegara ; student leaders Akbar Atri and Ali Afshary ; Iranian American human rights activist...
  • AGAINST ILLUSIONS. To...

    AGAINST ILLUSIONS. To continue with the theme of the day, I�ll point out that the absolute most dangerous thing that can happen to a country is for it to fall prey to pleasing delusions. It would be nice if Lebanese people regarded Israel's military action as a nice way to help them build democracy , but it simply isn't the case . Meanwhile, to make things worse, here comes The New York Sun with a Youssef Ibrahim op-ed arguing that Arabs everywhere are supporting Israeli action: Rarely have I seen such an uprising, indeed an intifada, against those little turbaned, bearded men across the Muslim landscape as the one that took place last week. The leader of Hezbollah, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, received a resounding "no" to pulling 350 million Arabs into a war with Israel on his clerical coattails. The collective "nyet" was spoken by presidents, emirs, and kings at the highest level of government in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, Qatar, Jordan, Morocco, and at the Arab League's meeting of...
  • JUST POSTED ON...

    JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: NO CHARGE, NO EXIT. Adressing an important gap in the public discussion following the Supreme Court's Hamdan decision, Jonathan Hafetz reminds us that Hamdan 's guarantee of a full trial isn't of much use to the hundreds of Guantanamo prisoners currently being held indefinitely without charge. --The Editors
  • IF JOHN BOLTON...

    IF JOHN BOLTON ISN'T CONFIRMED, THE TERRORISTS WILL WIN. And Senator George Voinovich means that literally: Ambassador Bolton's appointment expires this fall when the Senate officially recesses. Should the president choose to renominate him, I cannot imagine a worse message to send to the terrorists -- and to other nations deciding whether to engage in this effort -- than to drag out a possible renomination process or even replace the person our president has entrusted to lead our nation at the United Nations at a time when we are working on these historic objectives. Because if anything discourages al-Qaeda, it's robust congressional support for our diplomatic representative to the UN. What a wanker. --Ezra Klein
  • A LITTLE BOMBING...

    A LITTLE BOMBING WILL BE GOOD FOR YOU. Also funny, but more in a sad way, is The Washington Post 's stated rationale for opposing the idea of the United States talking to Syria in order to broker an Israel-Hezbollah cease-fire: "The result will be to restore Damascus's influence in Lebanon and destroy the new independent, democratic government in Beirut -- which has far more to fear from such a deal than from Israel's cratering of its airport runways and bridges." Intriguingly, this isn't the view of the actual new independent, democratic government in Beirut -- which wants a cease-fire and doesn't enjoy being bombed. All too many Americans seem incapable of grasping what is, perhaps, the fundamental truth of air power: Nobody likes being bombed, and nobody ever has or ever will believe that the bombing is being done for their own good. --Matthew Yglesias
  • OUTSOURCING HUMOR. I've...

    OUTSOURCING HUMOR. I've been trying for days now to write something funny about the right wing's new take on the " Freedom Babes " of yore, but I don't seem to have the requisite skills. Fortunately, Tim Cavanaugh and Dave Weigel have the goods at Hit and Run. --Matthew Yglesias
  • POWER VACCUUM 101....

    POWER VACCUUM 101. One thing you can say about Newt Gingrich : the guy doesn't pull his punches. On Sunday, Newt announced, on " Meet the Press ," the commencement of World War III in the Middle East and explained how to use that characterization of the current wars there as an election strategy. Come Monday, he carried his game plan to two distinct, if overlapping, constituencies: right-wing politicos and self-identified "born-again" Christians. To the rabidly liberal-hating, Ann Coulter -loving readers of Human Events Online , Gingrich laid out his whole clash-of-civilizations WWIII scenario -- targeting, one presumes, the Capitol Hill crowd. In a longish discourse with numerous bulleted points, the disgraced former House Speaker connected North Korea's bomb, a number of alleged terrorist plots targeting North American sites, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez , the Mumbai bombings and the "Iran-Syrian-Hezbollah-Hamas terrorist alliance." Offering numbered talking points on the...

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