Archive

  • DEMOCRACY PROMOTION. ...

    DEMOCRACY PROMOTION. Seems to me that Andy McCarthy is asking the right questions. Though democracy promotion makes for great and stirring rhetoric, it's really worth having a serious conversation about when and in which forms it conflicts with America's interests and the war on terror. It's testament to this administration's fundamental inability to shed the Cold War mindset that they seem to have avoided any actual thinking over the interplay between a transformative project to change the Middle East's regimes and the immediate imperative to calm anti-American sentiment and assure domestic safety and regional stability. Nevertheless, if Bush had come before the country in 2003 and explained that his plan to fight terror involved instituting an unstable Islamic regime in Iraq and making Hezbollah and Hamas the governments of Lebanon and Palestine, I'm not so certain reelection would have lay in his future. --Ezra Klein
  • THE RIGHT WING...

    THE RIGHT WING IS VERY BRAVE. Campus Progress, the student journalism arm of the Center for American Progress (Full disclosure: I've done some writing for them), wanted to send a reporter to cover the right-wing Young America Foundation's conference. Not so fast, said YAF's smug, emoticon-using media representative, Jason Mattera . After LOL'ing over the request, Mattera explained that he'd no sooner credential CP than The Nation , contrary thought assumedly provoking allergic reactions at conservative conferences (and liability insurance being expensive, what with the lack of tort reform and all). One problem: Campus Progress had credentialed Mattera for not one, but both of their annual conferences, even after he wrote in National Review that "instead of injecting some fresh thinking into the young left-activist bloodstream, panelists at Campus Progress�s national student conference rehashed big-government policies, drew ridiculous parallels, and conveyed embarrassing talking points...
  • NEGOTIATING A WAY...

    NEGOTIATING A WAY OUT. I noticed that some commenters replying to Matt 's item this morning were skeptical about the possibility of a negotiated disarmament of the Hezbollah terrorists. I'd like to point them to this story from The Jerusalem Post on the situation: There are already Israeli government ministers discussing the need for some sort of prisoner exchange, despite Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's declared steadfast opposition to such a move. Peretz, The Jerusalem Post has learned, believes Israel should be willing to release prisoners in what he has called a "gesture" to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, if Shalit, Goldwasser and Regev are released. Israel has made such deals in the past - most recently in 2003 - when the remains of three IDF soldiers and captured businessman Elhanan Tennenbaum, held by Hizbullah, were returned to Israel in exchange for hundreds of Palestinian prisoners. Such a swap, officers admitted on Thursday, might turn out to be the only way to get the...
  • QUALITY OF LIFE....

    QUALITY OF LIFE. Folks should tell Tester that, once you look past this pesky crime emergency and the apparent uptick in ghoulish attacks against even residents of the fancier neighborhoods in town, DC's a swell place to live. Great summers, too! --Sam Rosenfeld
  • TESTER TEST. A...

    TESTER TEST. A year ago, I had a chance to sit down in Great Falls, Montana, with Senate candidate Jon Tester , who is in DC now for fundraising events and meet-n-greets. The one thing he said last July that still sticks in my memory was this reflection on the life he and his wife have been living in Montana for 48 years: �We�ve got a great quality of life where we live. Washington will not be a step up; it�ll be a step down as far as quality of life goes.� All politicians tell you how much more they like their home district than Washington, but somehow you just knew he was serious as a heart attack when he said it. I popped in at a house party last night here in DC hosted by a native Montanan who was meeting Tester for the first time. I wanted to see if Tester�s recent victory in the Senate primary, his current lead over Conrad Burns in the polls, and being dressed in a suit and tie at a Capitol Hill fundraiser might just reveal a different Jon Tester than the one I met a year ago...
  • ON A LIGHTER...

    ON A LIGHTER NOTE. Shamu is back at number one on the New York Times most e-mailed list. --Garance Franke-Ruta
  • IRAN'S CHESSBOARD. Kevin...

    IRAN'S CHESSBOARD. Kevin Drum takes up the question of how involved Iran and Syria have been in recent events in the Middle East. While Los Angeles Times reporters speaking primarily to American or U.S.-based sources painted an inconclusive picture , a Gaza-based New York Times reporter's overseas sources pointed a more direct finger at Tehran: An Arab intelligence officer working in a country neighboring Israel said it appeared that Iran � through Hezbollah � had given support to Mr. Meshal to stage the seizure of Corporal Shalit. The officer said the Shalit case, even before the capture of two more Israeli soldiers, amounted to Hezbollah and Iran sending a message: �If you want to hurt us, there are tools that we have and that we can use against you.� Israeli intelligence officers and analysts say they believe that the message is primarily Iran�s, acting through Hezbollah and Mr. Meshal. Itamar Rabinovich, former Israeli ambassador to Washington and chief negotiator with Syria on a...
  • BIKINI KILL. I...

    BIKINI KILL. I hadn�t noticed at first, because the print is squintishly small, but the latest Vanity Fair cover takes a pretty rude and gratuitous shot at Hillary Clinton . The cover is of two-time Oscar winner Hilary Swank in a white bikini kneeling in the surf, accompanied by the tag �Hey, there, HILARY!*� The asterisk references the following clarifying text: �*The Hilary you want to see in a bikini!� You may recall the January 1998 episode when the Clintons were vacationing in the Virgin Islands and an Agence France-Presse photog hiding in the bushes snapped a shot of then-50-year-old Clinton in her bikini, dancing with the president. Her response, as recounted in Living History (p. 438), to the charge that she choreographed that for political gain: �Just name me any fifty-year-old woman who would knowingly pose in her bathing suit -- with her back pointed to the camera.� Even Hillary�s indefatigable, her-ambition-is-limitless critics, who are convinced that 99 percent of Clinton...
  • MUM'S THE WORD....

    MUM'S THE WORD. I just returned from the ostensible news conference at which Valerie Plame Wilson and her husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson , issued statements on the reasons behind their launching of a civil lawsuit against Vice President Dick Cheney , Deputy White House Chief of Staff Karl Rove , former vice presidential Chief of Staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby , and 10 unnamed political operatives. I use the word "ostensible," because it seemed to me that no news was broken here, with neither of the Wilsons taking questions. (Unless, of course, you count the revelation of the creation of a fund for the Wilsons' legal expenses, to which supporters may contribute here .) The Wilsons' attorney, Christopher Wolf of Proskauer Rose LLP, answered questions in a lawyerly way, which meant he didn't really answer them at all. I asked if he could explain how the Bevins precedent on which the case is based -- which, in the past, apparently applied only to the actions of law enforcement...
  • FOREHEAD GROWTH. ...

    FOREHEAD GROWTH. Paul Krugman returns to the economics beat with an invaluable look at how our economy is growing: Here�s what happened in 2004. The U.S. economy grew 4.2 percent, a very good number. Yet last August the Census Bureau reported that real median family income � the purchasing power of the typical family � actually fell. Meanwhile, poverty increased, as did the number of Americans without health insurance. So where did the growth go? The answer comes from the economists Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez, whose long-term estimates of income equality have become the gold standard for research on this topic, and who have recently updated their estimates to include 2004. They show that even if you exclude capital gains from a rising stock market, in 2004 the real income of the richest 1 percent of Americans surged by almost 12.5 percent. Meanwhile, the average real income of the bottom 99 percent of the population rose only 1.5 percent. In other words, a relative handful of...

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