Steven Greenhouse had an excellent piece in today's New York Times about sweatshops in Jordan that manufacture apparel for export to the United States. This industry has been developed largely as a result of a trade agreement that Jordan signed with the United States in the late nineties. The article describes slave-like conditions, as foreign workers routinely have their passports confiscated by factory owners so that they cannot freely leave. According to the article, workers can be forced to work up to 48 hours straight, are routinely ripped off for their pay, and are beaten if they complain.
At the risk of damaging my standing as one of the leading proponents of the housing bubble argument, I would take issue with the assessment of a Washington Post article. The article reported that the percentage of people refinancing homes with mortgages that are larger than the original mortgage (in other words, pulling equity out of their home) hit a 16 year high in the first quarter.
DEAD RIGHT. As I believe Matt and others have noted before, David Frum could be a candid and sharp conservative political observer before he descended into Bush hagiography and addled foreign policy nuttiness. His new online Cato essay on the death of small government Republicanism is good and worth reading (and not merely because it provides fodder for this funny gotcha from Jon Chait).
THE PLAME-IRAN CONNECTION.Kevinwonders what's up with David Shuster's assertion that Valerie Plame was working on Iran issues while undercover at the CIA. In today's Washington Post chat, Tom Edsallreports that Walter Pincus is on the case, so I suspect we will all have answers soon enough:
Washington, D.C.: MSNBC reported last night that Valerie Plame was working in Iran's nuclear program at the CIA. This would seem to be a monumental piece of information - yet not a mention in The Post. What's going on over there?
THE DOUGHNUT IN THE OINTMENT. This Hillarticle, citing recent poll numbers showing that a majority of seniors are satisfied with their prescription drug coverage, questions whether Democrats will be able to make political hay over the "drug bill debacle" in November. I don't actually think that's a totally dumb question to ask, and only time will tell. But Congressman Pete Stark's quote in the piece -- �They haven�t hit the �doughnut hole� yet. � Let�s do the poll then� -- should definitely be heeded.
A PLEA TO OUR EXPERTS. For the reasons that Suzanne Nossel outlines here, I am tempted to think that a Chapter 7 Security Council resolution could offer the international community the necessary diplomatic leverage to get Iran back into the fold. And it is refreshing, for once, to see the United States and the EU-3 (France, Germany, and the U.K.) on the same page as they work together to draft a resolution that invokes Chapter 7 but is also palatable to the Russians and Chinese. To be sure, this effort may be futile and suggest that the Euro-American alliance simply cannot use the Council to pressure Iran.
A BAD CHOICE. Since Mikebrought it up, I have to say I was really disappointed by Matt Santos's choice for secretary of state. Bill Clinton gave a key national security job to the GOP when he made Bill Cohen his secretary of defense, there was talk of John Kerry trying to give a foreign policy job to someone in the Lugar/Hagel/McCain axis (this was especially odd since Hagel and McCain have diametrically opposed views), and now it's taking over The West Wing. This business just sends a horrible message: Democrats aren't up to the job, while impeding the party's ability to build its own cadre of leaders on security issues.
PHILOSOPHY FOUL!Brad DeLong and Eric Umansky both praise today's John Tierneycolumn which deploys John Rawls's notion of a veil of ignorance to argue for a more liberal immigration policy. I agree with Tierney's conclusion, but he's abusing the philosophical material here which just happens to be drawn from my alleged former area of academic expertise.
WRONG AGAIN, TOMASKY. Nope, not about the Democrats and the common good. I�m basically right about that. But my daring prediction that Matt Santos would make Arnie Vinick his vice president on The West Wing went up in smoke Sunday night (and I wasn�t even around to see it -- I was in an undisclosed location in old Europe). The pain was made all the more intense because, last week, a friend heard from someone associated with the show that they�d read my prediction-post, and that I was right. Good feint.
LIES AND THE LYING LIARS WHO TELL THEM. I believe Imentioned the $100 rebate plan on this fine blog yesterday. Mattmight consider reading Tapped sometime. I will agree with him, however, that the current collapse of the Republican juggernaut is rendering the liberal blogging game mighty difficult. The post where I mentioned the rebate, for example, was like the umpteenth GOP-in-disarray congressional update post we've done recently; gloating gets monotonous. We should probably be reading more Powerline or Michelle Malkin posts and pointing out how they're awful.